Basement Sessions Vol.3 (The Ljubljana Tapes)
At the third volume of its “Basement Sessions”, the Jonas Kullhammar / Torbjorn Zetterberg / Espen Aalberg trio brings a fourth element to the “mutated hardbop” concept they’ve been putting to practice: Jørgen Mathisen. The Norwegian tenor saxophonist is the perfect match to Kullhammar’s twin sax – he has a similar power drive and the same connection to the tenor jazz tradition (the one going through Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane) than the Swedish musician. Finding them together in this live recording at a very special session before the audience got in, for their appearance at the Ljubljana Jazz Festival is a joy for the ears. Side by side they improvise inside (and out) everyone’s compositions (plus a surprising rendition to Marilyn Mazur’s Fresk Baglæns) and topping one of the most propulsive rhythmic sections in Europe today, provided by the always surprising Zetterberg and Aalberg. If you thought, by listening to Mathisen’s work with Shagma, The Core and Zanussi Five, he was a Kullhammar’s rival in the Scandinavian scene, think again: here they are in a collaborative set, never indulging in a “who blows more and play faster” combat. The music sounds old school, mixing references of the years when hardbop transitioned to free jazz, but make sure: what you find here isn’t a passive reproduction of the Fifties. A must.