CD Review: Hanna Paulsberg Concept - Song for Josia

Hanna Paulsberg Concept - Song for Josia
(Øra fonogram OF058. Review Mike Collins)

Song for Josia is young Norwegian saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg's second album with the quartet she formed in her final year at Trondheim Conservatory in 2010. They are amongst a slew of emerging Nordic jazz musicians who have appeared at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in recent years thanks to the showcase it provides for a partnership between Birmingham Conservatoire and Trondheim. In 2012, they attracted admiring comments from Geoff Winston in his review for LondonJazz following an appearance at The Salisbury. This relatively short (41 minutes) CD is chance to savour the strong group feel that Geoff observed on that occasion.

The opener Frygia enters with a splashy loose feel, long notes from Paulsberg's tenor over rolling chords from Oscar Gronberg on piano. A bass solo from Trygve Fiske sustains the meditative atmosphere until they accelerate nicely into an energetic flowing piano solo. There's an organic feel that's sustained throughout the album and it's immediately evident that they draw inspiration as much from American post bop acoustic quartets as from their own rich Norwegian heritage. De Ensomme builds the intensity with an insistently repeated motif over Hans Hulbækmo's steady groove on toms until it bursts into a sax solo full of fire and declamatory phrases. Diamond(ra)'s balladic opening of breathy sighing tenor phrases evolves into a lilting waltz with evocative rippling lines and broken chords from the piano etching out the shifting harmony. The title track settles into a cantering samba after another sax drums conversation with a few angular hints at Giant Steps. Elephant Mist has the feeling of layered rhythms under its mazy theme and gives way to the most full throated blowing of the set from the whole band whilst the jaunty, calypso like Hermulen evokes the most playful and conversational interplay.

This is an attractive, varied set of originals from Hanna Paulsberg, played with assurance and energy by her fine quartet. Their aim with this recording, they say, was to produce something that captured the feel of a live performance and in that they've certainly succeeded both in the nature of the playing and in the ambience of the recording.

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