The Hunting of the Snark

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Over the years, many jazz musicians who divided their time between New York City and Los Angeles have described themselves as bicoastal. But NYNDK aren't bicoastal -- they're bicontinental. This acoustic North American/European collective is led by musicians from New York City (trombonist Chris Washburne), Norway (saxophonist/clarinetist Ole Mathisen), and Denmark (pianist Soren Moller). In fact, NYNDK stands for New York, Norway, and Denmark, and The Hunting of the Snark was recorded in the Big Apple but mixed in Oslo, Norway. This 2008 recording finds co-leaders Washburne, Mathisen, and Moller forming a quintet with bassist Per Mathisen and drummer Tony Moreno; post-bop continues to be NYNDK's orientation, and the post-bop they provide on The Hunting of the Snark tends to be cerebral and quirky (even mildly avant-garde on occasion). This 47-minute CD contains its share of original material, but NYNDK also make classical pieces a high priority -- although they don't approach them in a traditionally classical way. Rather, they give post-bop makeovers to compositions by Charles Ives ("Remembrance," "The Cage," and "1, 2, 3") as well as Carl Nielsen ("Symphony No. 2: Second Movement"), Arne Nordheim (the title track), and George Perle ("Scherzo No. 2"). And the fact that NYNDK acknowledge classical composers from both the United States and Europe is no coincidence; it is a perfect example of the bicontinental perspective that this collective brings to the table. The Hunting of the Snark is not an easy album to absorb; NYNDK don't shy away from the intellectual or the abstract, and they don't go out of their way to be accessible. This release requires some patience on the part of the listener, but that patience is definitely rewarded. Those who enjoyed NYNDK's previous releases will also find a lot to appreciate on The Hunting of the Snark.

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