Although Northern Crossings, Olga Konkova's second Candid date as a leader, was recorded in New Jersey in 1997, all of the players were born in Europe. This CD finds the Russian pianist (who now lives in Oslo, Norway) forming a quartet with two Norwegians (soprano and tenor saxman Ole Mathisen and his brother, bassist Per Mathisen) and Swiss drummer Jojo Mayer. And Candid, the label they recorded Northern Crossings for, is British. While Konkova's first Candid release, Her Point of View, contained a lot of standards, Northern Crossings focuses on songs that were written by Per Mathisen (who is Konkova's husband and the session's co-leader) and Konkova herself. This is a very cerebral post-bop album; Konkova and the Mathisen brothers aren't afraid to be abstract and complex, and they are as uncompromising on the more aggressive material ("On the Move," "Independent Blues") as they are on something as relaxed as the pensive "Olga's Dream." But while Northern Crossings doesn't go out of its way to be accessible, the CD is enjoyable if you can accept Konkova on her own terms. Like a lot of the more intellectual post-bop, Northern Crossings isn't easy to absorb on the first listen. But the more you play it, the more you find to admire.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson