Fattigfolket

Park

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The playful photography accompanying the Denmark-based Swedish/Norwegian experimental jazz fusion quartet's third album -- including photo-booth mug shots of them wearing Buddy Holly-style glasses -- is a reflection of the playful improvisational spirit they bring to this infectious melodically and metrically unusual jaunt through the park. Actually, make that 11 different parks based mostly in Germany, images of which the members of the group drew on when they were composing for this project. At one point, so the story goes, the creative urges these parks inspired were so overwhelming that the pieces of certain songs fell into place while they were sitting on the grass. The word Fattigfolket translates to "the poor people" -- a subtle jab at Norway's explosive growth over the past century -- but there's nothing meager about the sound they create fusing a mix of Gunnar Halle's trumpet, Halivard Godal's sax and clarinet, Putte Johander's plucky bass, and Ole Morten Sommer's offbeat drums. The tracks create a unique aural travelogue, from the haunting, reflective (and then somehow wistful) trumpet/sax-driven opener "Pfaueninsel Park" to the whimsical, briskly swinging "Brentanopark," marked by soaring horn duality and the dense mix of hypnotic bass and constant tribal drumbeats. Each park brings a different bit of modal weather to the set. "Lohrpark" broods along with a trumpet/clarinet melody and seductive rhythms, while the dark acoustics of "Innocentia Park" render it almost like a mournful elegy -- with just a touch of optimism to get to the next spot of shade. "Grunewald Park" finds the band in more of an atonal mood, trying to figure out if it's sunny or cloudy. Overall, Fattigfolket work up a unique slice of modern Euro-jazz, challenging if you prefer conventional jazz but fun if you're game for an unexpected stroll.

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