The Nordic Meeting is an annual event at the Swiss Radio in Gothenberg that brings together many diverse talents in the jazz, improvisation, and new music worlds and places them together in unusual contexts. Here, bass god Anders Jormin works with a quintet that includes saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist and guitarist Marc Ducret. The compositions and arrangements are all Jormin's; they run the gamut from the restrained nourish pastorality of "Namantanda" to the freewheeling, choppy, electrified "Thousand Days Left." The horns, played by Ljungkvist and trumpeter Arve Henrichsen, usually float around the top, hovering about some semblance of a harmonic figure that translates into melody, even if it doesn't exist as such. Jormin's bass stands as the arbiter between various sections of the band, and Ducret's trademark guitar sound moves often in an explosive, fiery opposition; introduction lyrical figures aid washes of feedback and looped-up staccato lines. "Blues," for instance, driven by Jormin, is absent of any real 12-bar activity, but conveys its notion perfectly, even though there is no melodic structure to the tune. "Kotot" begins as a droning trumpet and transforms itself into an open-ended improv piece, forsaking nothing to get to an elusive harmonic juncture that eludes the band for most of the tune. When they find it, however, the struggle appears to give way to a tense yet agile, conical series of phrases and interwoven lines. And on it goes, as Jormin leads this band through an astonishing array of musical spelunking expeditions without ever once getting to harsh edges or relying too heavily on dissonance to get him out of a jam. His confidence is uncanny and he rarely loses players for more than a few seconds. This is vanguard jazz that is accessible to most anyone with an ear for the new and exciting, or with a heart that yearns for alternatives to pure aggressive dissonance. And yes, by the way, it does swing.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek