(USA) - original
Scandinavian Swing: In the Country
By CHRISTOPHER PORTER
SAVE THE BEST for first. That has to be the reason
In the Country is opening the Nordic Jazz festival
at the House of Sweden on Friday rather
than headlining it. (That the trio is Norwegian, rather
than Swedish, probably has something to do with it, too.)
No stinky gloves to the faces of the Jens Winther European Quintet (Denmark),
the Ilmiliekki Quartet (Finland) and the Peter Asplund
Quartet (Sweden), either. All are extremely strong acts, covering the
jazz spectrum, from mainstream swing (Winther and Asplund) to gorgeous
folky modernism (Ilmiliekki), and House of Sweden's rooftop audience will
experience an evening of stunning sounds to accompany the on-high view
across the Potomac.
But only In the Country has developed a musical language all its own —
call it "Nynorsk" (New Norwegian).
The trio of Morten Qvenild (piano), Roger Arntzen
(bass) and Pal Hausken (drums) call on the pastoral traditions
of Norwegian jazz — aka "mountain music" — but In
the Country also adds enough darkness to its sound that even at its most
serene there's a palpable tension in the band's songs. And "songs"
is a key word for In the Country's second CD, "Losing Stones,
Collecting Bones" (Rune Grammofon).
"I was trying to develop the songwriting from the first album ["This
Was the Pace of My Heartbeat"]," Qvenild said, "and
make it even more current to the things that interest me: pop music and
more rock music, more tight kinds of music. And bring this into a piano
"Losing Stones, Collecting Bones" is more romantic than its
predecessor, though both are beyond lovely. Like countryman Tord Gustavsen,
Qvenild taps into deep emotions with simple phrases, letting the silence
speak and communicating through tightly controlled band dynamics.
"A clearer album. Not so much jazz as the first one; it's more songs"
is how Qvenild described the new CD. "It was even more important
to orchestrate the songs to give them variations. But me as a musician
is into more of the simple stuff. So maybe that's why you think it's more
romantic; it's very attached to some kind of beauty, but I also try to
have some kind of danger."
» House of Sweden, 901 30th St. NW; Fri., 6:30 p.m., sold out; 202-467-2600.
Published : 15.06.2007