This album from 1999 features the Norwegian quartet Element in top shape. All the music was written by saxophonist/flutist Gisle W. Johansen and shows strong influences from the post-bop of latter-day John Coltrane and Archie Shepp. It grooves raucously, thanks to the rhythm section of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Paal Nilssen-Love, a unit that kept on improving afterwards but already was a marvel to follow. The two of them lock together so tightly they can only drag along any musician in the vicinity for a locomotive race -- the 17-minute "Shaman's Dance" is all the proof you need. Pianist Håvard Wiik brings in a softer hue, McCoy Tyner style. Johansen's tenor sax playing is quite respectable, but the real surprise comes when he grabs his flute for "Meditation" and "The Truth," two slower numbers that go back to the still melodically sensitive Coltrane of A Love Supreme (or Roland Kirk's tender side). The album also features guest appearances from reedmen Petter Wettre and Vidar Johansen, although their contributions are difficult to point out -- except for their playful additions in the opener, "The Wish." Shaman is jazz to smile to, but don't take it too lightly. These musicians stay out of the mainstream, but they go their creative ways with such confidence, lack of pretension, and obvious respect for the jazz tradition that they make it easy to understand and enjoy them. Highly recommended, especially to those who want to hear what Norwegian jazz has to say outside ECM's sphere of influence.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture