The second night of Jakob Bro recording a new album is an equally magical experience

Geschreven door: Dick Hovenga

 (vertaald door: Nausikaä de Blaauw )

Label: ECM Records

Actually, it was to be expected that the second night of Jakob Bro’s “recording four days” at Brussels’ Flagey would be completely different from the first. With Brian Blade, now axed, the trio dynamic is bound to be different. And it is. Bro, bassist Anders Christensen and drummer Blade once again impress with magical new sounds.

With Bro, Christensen and Blade, trying out new material never sounds like “practicing”, rather like a full-blown performance. If you were unaware that Blade flew in as late as Thursday morning and the three of them never played together before, you really wouldn’t be able to hear that. Tonight (Friday) this holds true even more. The chemistry between the three musicians is through the roof.

A new evening and again it brings us a lot of new music, embedded between what can already be called new album candidates, simply far too beautiful to be left gathering dust. Tonight opens, once again, with the composition Bro only just wrote, on Thursday morning, and that was performed as the opener of the first evening. This is a composition that immediately sets the tone, with restrained atmospheric guitar playing and a slow build-up. It sounds different from the opening night version, the musicians sound more confident in the build-up and Blade asserts himself right away with inventive and beautiful percussion.

Remarkably, Bro doesn’t stop his devices after that first composition, making it seem like the composition isn’t over. It gives the trio the opportunity to continue with two new compositions, without any applause in between. This is actually something that suits Bro’s concerts very well. As a listener, you want to linger in those atmospheres he creates, the trio creates, without any interrupting applause or other exuberance.

And so, the first 15 to 20 minutes are pure magic. They try out a lot of new music, mighty new music. How wonderful that in Christensen Bro finds a truly different bass player, someone who likes to play penetrating bass lines. Christensen has such a drive and tonight sees Blade join him, both are in top form. What a beautiful rhythm tandem and I can sense this collaboration will increase their pervasiveness the coming nights.

Bro, with his playing, is a sound colourist par excellence. So rich and versatile, his compositions leaving so much room for improvisation; as a listener you cannot but watch and listen breathlessly. Bro is inimitable in his construction. How he pulls it off, I don’t know, but he manages to build layer upon layer to climaxes that never predictably excel in thick guitar work. He keeps widening his playing, playing over loops, making it sound even more impressive without pushing through on the volume. Intangibly beautiful.

So yes, the outlines of the new album tentatively become visible. The opening composition (no title yet), Paul Motion’s Untitled #2 and Song #2 are undoubtedly among the serious candidates. And they are indeed wonderful new compositions that we would love to hear on record. But, also tonight, we are treated to a lot of new work we would like to hear more often. From short miniatures, to long stretched, somewhat fat-sounding, impressive pieces.

I was hoping that Christensen and Blade would seek more rhythm on this second night. And they do. Where Bro’s music, in contrast, often lends itself to introspective percussion, Blade now picks up with elastic rhythms that perfectly complement the pulsating bass lines Christensen lays down. Giving Bro’s new compositions renewed poignancy and urgency.

Once again, the trio plays a nice, long set of new music, concluding with a rock-solid encore. On Thursday the trio played a new, more intense composition during which Blade held back a bit. Not so tonight. What a mighty long-drawn-out composition they gift us. It starts out as a composition akin to Dans Dans (I can’t resist the comparison), then Bro dives back into it, full width, the atmosphere, and takes his playing to magical heights with loops and other electronics, while Christensen imperturbably continues his mighty bass lines and Blade delivers downright explosive drumming. Mighty.

Many a trio would be extremely satisfied with merely the recordings made over the first two nights. I’m sure this trio doesn’t feel that way, not yet. You can sense it, in everything, they know there is much more to it, they can go even deeper, and challenge themselves even more.

To witness this process for four days is very special and also very interesting. As a journalist, I can say that to report on these special recordings and to see Bro, Christensen and Blade at work, playing a great new album together, is a most rewarding task.

Photo’s: Olivier Lestoquoit