This European improvising super-group reverts back to the original trio format, captured live at a Portuguese venue. Here, reedman Martin Küchen teams with fellow Scandinavians (now residing in the US), bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Kjell Nordeson. In effect, it’s an invigorating performance and designed with great focus, as the musicians don’t blow matters out of proportion or engage in long-winded soloing sprees.
Flaten cooks up a bouncy gait via his peek-a-boo ostinato to launch “Equality & Death (Mothers, Fathers, Where Are Ye?)” into a multi-tiered piece, spanning introspective interludes, chirpy phrasings and a simple theme along with sporadic outbreaks by Küchen. Nonetheless, the band keeps you on your toes as the anticipation factor looms mightily. They veer off into popping choruses, edgy motifs, angst and Nordeson’s venomous rampage atop the bassist’s chunky lines. But “Satan In Plain Clothes” is built on a straightforward rock pulse, led by the saxophonist’s intense lyricism and caustic theme-building escapades. Indeed, it’s a gutsy and rather vicious sequence of events, where Küchen cries into the wilderness, heightened by the drummer’s polyrhythmic flurries.
Küchen is a whirling dervish on “Don´t Ruin Me,” incited by Nordeson’s oscillating beats and Flaten’s prolific accents and monstrous sound. With doses of free bop and sinewy detours the band settles down towards the coda then reformulates the primary hook, tinted with Küchen’s melodic passages, full-bodied tonal surges and piercing progressions as they expand and contract throughout. No doubt, the audience got its money’s worth and reciprocates the musicians’ good deeds with rousing applause.