By Stefan Wood
Satan in Plain Clothes is the latest album by the Scandinavian group All Included, fronted by saxophonist Martin Küchen. Inspired by 50’s hard bop and 60’s free jazz, All Included’s music is a mixture of free bop and European improv. Their debut album was inspired by Charles Mingus’ political works; here, they continue in that mode with hard edged, layered textures that belie the group’s size.
Küchen, along with Thomas Johansson (trumpet), Mats Äleklint (trombone), Jon Rune Strøm (double bass), and Tollef Østvang (drums), fire off six densely packed compositions that flow seamlessly. Stand out tracks are the opener “Tune for Martin,” a call to arms piece where trombone, then trumpet, and finally sax, solo, one creating a theme and the others each playing a variation of it, like heralds announcing the entrance of a dignitary.
“The Gap” is very Mingus like, with the bass providing a strong strolling rhythm that allows for the horns to blare and squeal in tandem, recalling the larger ensemble organized chaos from Mingus’ “Black Saint and Sinner Lady,” but slower and more deliberate. The bass and drums can really hold their own against the power of the horns; Strøm and Østvang, while keeping things grounded, create a large sound that provides a framework for the horns, almost militant with purpose. This is shown to great effect on “Despair is in the Air,” with its passionate and uplifting anthem like tone; 60’s spiritual jazz revitalized and re purposed for contemporary times.
The closer “Satan in Plain Clothes” has a wicked funky back beat, Fela Kuti like but without the Tony Allen rhythm, much slower. The horns play with a mixture of New Orleans attitude and European improv, moving in and out of the back beat with aplomb. An excellent closer to a fine album; an amalgamation of styles and influences that is rich in originality and creativity.