Friends & Neighbors

André Roligheten  tenor saxophone | Thomas Johansson  trumpet | Oscar Grönberg  piano | Jon Rune Strøm  double bass | Tollef Østvang  drums and percussion


Scandinavian powerhouse Friends & Neighbors make an auspicious return with Circles, their sixth full-length release, brimming – as you might expect from an outfit borrowing its moniker from a lesser-known Ornette Coleman classic – with dexterous, hard-edged improvisations, unapologetically taking influence from the fearless New Thing movement of the 1960s and early 70s.
But Friends & Neighbors’ bold mandate has always extended beyond the realms of mere homage. Releases such as No Beat Policy (Øra Fonogram, 2011), What’s Wrong? (Clean Feed, 2016) and The Earth Is # (Clean Feed, 2021) testify to the band’s remarkable propensity for reshaping the seismic innovations of Archie Shepp, John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, to instigate incendiary and decidedly contemporary admixtures bristling with vital energy and invention, brokering a robust accordance between reverence and insurgency.
On Circles, André Roligheten (tenor saxophone), Thomas Johansson (trumpet), Oscar Grönberg (piano), Jon Rune Strøm (double bass) and Tollef Østvang (drums and percussion) – fresh from duties with formidable names including Gard Nilssen’s Acoustic Unity, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Cortex, Universal Indians and Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit – reconvene for what is arguably their finest offering yet. Each musician here contributes stunning arrangements, liberating the collective in demarcating a succession of clandestine pathways bridging swinging bop, kinetic extemporisation and melodic balladry. Barnstormers such as ‘Ghost March’ and the title-track resurrect the impish spirituality of Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor with courageous unions of investigative abstraction and gospel-tinged lyricism, while ‘Hymn Infinitum’ slows the pace via its misty-eyed, film-noir-type lullaby
While Friends & Neighbors evince a clear reverence for the past, Circles sees them remain entirely courageous in their treatments of it. By adopting, and then adapting, the trailblazing jazz subversions of the 60s, they follow the radical modus operandi demarcated by their illustrious predecessors, reconnoitring uncharted terrains, while affording an occasional adoring glance in the rear view mirror.

Tracks 1 by Oscar Grönberg (TONO/NCB) | Tracks 2, 5 and 7 by Tollef Østvang (TONO/NCB) | Track 3 by Thomas Johansson (TONO/NCB) | Track 4 by Jon Rune Strøm (TONO/NCB) | Track 6 by André Roligheten (TONO/NCB)

Recorded December 14th and 15th, 2022 by Dag Erik Johansen at Athletic Sound, Halden, Norway | Mixed by Ingar Hunskaar | Mastered by Fridtjof Lindeman
Produced by Friends & Neighbors | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

More music that may interest you

Sweet Bonanza Balloon Crazy Time Aviator Mega Moolah Fire Joker Aviator