By Tim Niland
Momentum is a Norwegian collective jazz group featuring Jørgen Mathisen on soprano and tenor saxophone, Christian Meaas Svendsen on bass and Andreas Wildhagen on drums. This album was recorded in Oslo on October 1st 2015, Mathisen composed the first two tracks and the final two were collective improvisations. “Gaining” opens the album with raw smears of sound, using scrapes of drums, fluttering saxophone and ominous bass. The music moves slowly forward as the musicians engage one another, moving massive blocks of sound and building with them. This evolves into “Maintaining” which develops the excitement with a choppy sound, building the suspense as the tempo rises. Short bursts of sound are carefully piled upon one another connoting forward motion as the urgency of the playing becomes frantic. The interaction between the musicians is very impressive and they hold fast to the theme that they have developed as it becomes nearly overwhelming. “Momentum” is the longest performance on the album and it opens with an exciting free jazz squall of torrid music. Raw, scouring saxophone in league with sawing bowed bass and thunderous drumming makes for a potent package and gives the group a raw and gutsy sound. The develop a very exciting and delightfully loud group improvisation of harrowing intensity as if all of the kinetic energy that had built up previously was being released. They throttle back the intensity to an open and abstract section for bowed bass and scattered drumming, with skittering saxophone commenting. The dynamics of this epic performance begin to rise again as they gain in volume and forward motion, and they are able to develop a big and brawny sound which is immediate and hard hitting with scalding saxophone atop thrashing bass and drums, nerve wracking yet thrilling. Fast trills of saxophone in space open the concluding track, “Snake Ballad” and the saxophonist develops a very nice sound somewhat similar to Peter Brotzman’s exotic tárogató calling out piercing tones over deep emotional wells of bass and drums. The music evolves episodically with open space for thick bass and subtle percussion. Mathisen’s saxophone renters as the group moves to a majestic conclusion. This was a very well done and unpredictable album that fans of modern jazz will enjoy.