By Tim Niland
The band Instant Light consists of the leader Jørgen Mathisen on tenor and soprano saxophones, Erlend Slettevoll on piano, Trygve Waldemar Fiske on double bass and Dag Erik Knedal Andersen on drums. They play an accessible and enjoyable brand of modern jazz that can be enjoyed equally by those who seek melody and those who seek the freedom of unbridled improvisation. The opening track, “Mayhall’s Object,” features soprano saxophone with piano, bass and drums; playing very well together at a medium up tempo. Mathisen’s saxophone stretches and then pulls back for the rhythm section to open up and express itself with a bright and swinging interlude. The saxophone returns, pushing the music into more intense territory, leading a gritty and potent collective improvisation that is very exciting to listen to and absorb. The leader moves to tenor saxophone for “Magellanic Cloud,” developing a thicker and meatier tone, and allowing the music to take on a dynamic nature with a crisp drum beat and delicate piano. The piano, bass and drums section is strongly rhythmic with cymbal beats and piano flourishes marking the path, and the return of the tenor saxophone leading the group into freer territory, marked by squalls of raw sound and then a gentler conclusion. On “MACS0647-JD” the tenor saxophone kneads a repeating motif with spare accompaniment, and the music begins to spread beyond, with raw sounding saxophone, thick bass, sharp piano chords and drumming. The music is intense but slightly out of phase, and there is a spacious center for bass and piano with skittish percussion. Gritty saxophone reappears and the band coalesces around this dark kernel of a theme that remains unresolved. The music is fast and uptempo on “Quasar” with a ripe melody that propels the group forward, though Mathisen’s saxophone quickly exits for a crisp and classy piano, bass and drums three way improvisation. When the saxophonist returns the energy spikes, he quickly pushes the tempo and sails forth with graceful energy, barreling down deeply into his horn and creating a memorable solo statement. The final track, “Neutron Star” opens with a fine solo from Fiske’s bass, leading to lush piano and saxophone filling in with subtle percussion coloring the edges. The music consists of shifting hues and colors with the instruments gradually bubbling up to add further information to the program, particularly the pianist who solos beautifully, leading to a more gruff and fast paced section for tenor saxophone that burrows through the ground ably tilled by the bass and drums. Overall this album worked very well, the compositions were well designed and the musicians performed and improvised at a high level. The band members are involved in several groups concurrently, but hopefully they will have time for another album in this configuration soon, for there is music potential left to explore.