From last December at Oslo’s Nasjonal Jazzscene we have the very potent free-avant jazz quintet All Included and their Satan in Plain Clothes (Clean Feed 326). It is a vibrant showing firmly in the post-new thing realm more so than a new music orientation, which is only to say that it has especially strong jazz roots more than not.
It is a European gathering of heavies perhaps not as especially well known in the States as they should be, but worthy of our ears in all senses.
In the quintet is saxophonist Martin Kuchen, trumpet wielding Thomas Johansson, trombonist Mats Aleklint, double bassist Jon Rune Strom and drummer Tollef Ostvang. They are markedly intent on articulating some excellent head compositions, three by Strom, two by Martin Kuchen and one by Leo and Martin Kuchen. The frameworks are classic sounding vehicles in a new thing zone.
The originals set things up for a free falling or swinging excellence from the rhythm team of Strom and Ostvang, who spike the music and at the same time bring an irresistible momentum to it all.
Martin carries a saxophonic torch heroically and lucidly. Thomas shows a good deal of the old/new jazz tradition in his well healed performances. And Mats has a bit of the old tailgating exuberance along with an avant soulful drive. The three in the frontline work very well together in realizing the heads, engaging in three way improvs and in their individual solo spots.
If I sometimes hear a little of the New York Contemporary 5 and the New York Art Quartet in the music it is only to say that they are extremely mindful of the roots of free jazz and work as an ensemble in ways that reflect the lessons to be learned from those seminal ’60s groups without slavishly copying or consciously setting about to create parallels. They have roots but they also have something to say about how we can work out new sounds that go beyond those roots in happy ways.
If someone were to ask me, right now, to play some exemplary free jazz made today, I might certainly put this one on, along with perhaps a good deal else. That is how much I value this date, obviously. It is a genuine goodie. So get a copy if you will! I expect you’ll feel like I do after a few listens.