About Jazz (USA) - original
The Country: Rochester Jazz Festival
Lutheran Church Of The Reformation
June 14, 2007
By ROBERT IANNAPOLLO
Morten Qvenild: piano, keyboard, vocals; Roger Arntzen: bass, vocals;
Pal Hausken: drums, percussion, vocals
After Moran’s set ran overtime, it was a quick jaunt back up to
the Church for another group in the Nordic Jazz Now series—Norwegian
trio In The Country. Once again the venue was packed. There was a little
buzz on this one, since their recent album Losing Stones, Collecting Bones
has been getting good reviews.
On paper, In The Country looked like a fairly straightforward proposition:
a piano trio. But in their own way, much like Moran, they’re trying
to carve their own individual space in this format. Once the music started,
one realized this group was doing things a little differently. First of
all their music tended to operate at the quieter end of the spectrum.
Pianist Qvenild shows the influence of Paul Bley, both harmonically and
in his use of space. There’s a little bit of Keith Jarrett in there
as well. At times one could describe this music as Satie-esque. Drummer
Hausken plays a standard kit, but it’s outfitted with all sorts
of extraneous things: bells, wooden objects. He would cover his toms and
snares with cloth to achieve that odd muted sound so prevalent on the
disc. Occasionally he would play a glockenspiel, doubling the melody or
playing counterpoint, which was a nice touch.
The rhythmic drive of this music is not exactly jazz-based. It seemed
much more rock-based. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since Hausken
is a fine drummer. The development of the pieces tended toward rock with
a rock-ish sense of drama: starting out quietly, building an idea to a
climactic pitch, then arcing back. When the band launched into “Kung
Fu Boys” (“I wrote this song and named it after ourselves”
said Qvenild), I couldn’t help but recall the Canterbury style of
bands like Hatfield & The North. This piece could have easily been
from one of that band’s instrumental interludes.
While In The Country may have had a rock base, they clearly had a jazz
musician’s sense of spontaneity, responding to a distant church’s
bells that started to ring during one of the quiet portions of the set.
Occasionally the trio would break into song. “Everyone’s going
to die, everyone in their life” went one. They were personable and
seemed genuinely shocked that they had such a large crowd: “We never
get audiences this big back home. This is amazing!” What was amazing
was the music, and once again the audience left with smiles on their faces
after receiving another pleasant surprise from this series.
Published : 18.07.2007