Rune Grammofon's latest release of duo combinations brings together Swedish pianist Sten Sandell and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, two free improvising masters from similar circles captured live in an outstanding set at the 2013 Kongsberg Jazz Festival.
Sandell, Sten & Paal Nilssen-Love
Label: Rune Grammofon
Released in: Norway
"The best improvisers are the ones that seem to invent and uninvent their instruments right in front of your eyes and ears. Swedish pianist Sten Sandell and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are two musical champions with a long experience of doing exactly that.
Jacana, the latest in Rune Grammofon's occasional series of unusual duo combinations, features the pair's sparkly improvised set captured at the 2013 Kongsberg Jazz Festival in southern Norway. Sten and Paal have been working together since forming a trio with Swedish bassist Johan Berthling (Fire!, Tape, etc.) in 1999, but this duet marks the start of a new chapter in their relationship.
Jacana's three tracks find the players flying close to the limits of their comfort zones, sometimes resembling the strange formality of Asian court music. It's savage and ritualistic, spiky yet flowing, arrhythmic but surging with understated pulses. Sandell breaks into vocal overtones on "Kauri" like some tranced-out Mongolian shaman. He pokes around in the guts of Nilssen-Love's rough surgical cuts and, at the start of the track "Jacana" itself, pulls out some ear-bogglingly rubbery notes from his piano's deep innards. At the end of "Curvature" they break off from their instruments and simply clap for a while. Two men getting down to the essentials of what humans can do with wood, strings and skin.
Sten Sandell is one of Swedish jazz's most distinguished elder statesmen, having worked unrelentingly since the mid-'80s. As well as his own trio and numerous international collaborations, his keyboard skills have been heard in groups such as GUSH, Guschwachs, Sven-Ake Johanssen Quintet, Townhouse Orchestra, and most recently, Mats Gustafsson's Fire! Orchestra. He has also composed music and sound art for installations, intermedia works, radio plays, theater and film.
Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the most intense drummers working on the planet right now. In theory, he's based in Oslo, but there's a huge global demand for his percussive threshing machine. He's often travelling on a relentless round of musical projects and festival appearances -- notably with Mats Gustafsson in The Thing, his Chicago trio with Ken Vandermark and Ab Baars, the Hairy Bones group with Peter Brotzmann and Toshinori Kondo, a trio with Massimo Pupillo and noise-artist Lasse Marhaug, plus duos with Peter Brotzmann, Terrie Ex, John Butcher, and others.
This duo is planned as an ongoing project, and offers some of the most refreshingly challenging music coming out of Scandinavia today. Jacana is another fine mess they've gotten themselves into."-Rune GrammofonAlso available on Vinyl LP.
• Show Bio for Paal Nilssen-Love
"Paal Nilssen-Love was born in Molde, Norway, Dec 24. 1974, and raised at a jazz club in Stavanger, run by his parents. It was natural to choose his fathers drums as his instrument and jazz as his work. From 1990 on he took actively part in the jazz milieu in Stavanger and joined bands with established musicians such as trumpeter Didrik Ingvaldsen and saxophonist Frode Gjerstad. In many ways, these collaborations were essential as they pointed out the directions for Paal's later musical development and career. During his studies at the Jazz dept at the University in Trondheim, where the first self initiated bands were established, things developed really fast - and Paal was nationally acknowledged at the age of 20.
The forming of the quartet Element in 1993 in many ways represented the start of a new phase in Paal's musical life. Element musically became a platform for several other groups with bassist Flaten and pianist Wiik, and lead to collaborations with Iain Ballamy and Chris Potter, amongst others. Paal moved to Oslo in 1996, where he joined and/or took part in the forming of bands like Vindaloo, SAN, Håkon Kornstad Tio, The Quintet and Frode Gjerstad Trio. He later on got more into self initiated projects and collaborations with Swedish musicians, such as pianist Sten Sandell and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson.
Paal played his first solo concert in 1999, and since then the solo concept has been an important part of his work: "Everyone should try doing some solo work, just to feel who you really are and what gets you going". His solo album "Sticks and stones" was put out in 2001 on SOFA Rec.
Being active in several bands at the same time has always been Paal's deliberate working method. He is constantly conscious about the projects he is in, as his participation in each and one of them is fully dedicated. Playing is not about getting from start to goal, but rather being in an everlasting process, a continuous movement where each new piece of music performed is a prolongation of the latest. Hence, keeping focused and concentrating all energy around what's happening there and then is of greatest importance - as is the freedom in the music, the ability of being free within the expression.
All bands, although various styles and musical versatility in general, represent important pieces that make up a total, and all bands are formed or joined with a clear vision. Today Paal's portfolio includes Atomic, School Days, The Thing, Frode Gjerstad Trio, Sten Sandell Trio, Scorch Trio, Territory Band, FME, and various duo projects such as with reedmen Ken Vandermark, John Butcher, Mats Gustafsson, organist Nils Henrik Asheim and noise wizard Lasse Marhaug. And not to forget the recently joined Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet."-Paal Nilssen-Love Website (http://www.paalnilssen-love.com/biography.php)
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European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
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Label: Rune Grammofon
Catalog ID: RCD 2159CD
Squidco Product Code: 19085
Recorded live in concert at the Kongsberg Jazzfestival, in Kongsberg, Norway, July 5th, 2013, by Thomas Hukkelberg.
Paal Nilssen-Love-drums, percussion
Sten Sandell-piano, voice
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1. Curvature 23:10
2. Kauri 17:00
3. Jacana 4:20