Round-up Jan/ Feb: In praise of quiet – Copland, Jønsson

The idea that compelling, even dramatic music need not be loud or busy is hardly revolutionary, but I’ve had a couple of welcome reminders over the last month or so from both a new, and a more familiar source. A recording that popped through my letter box (I know, a bit old school) from Danish guitarist Alex Jønsson was a new and welcome experience.

I reviewed the album Heathland for London Jazz News (here). Track titles like Stillness, … and Darkness Crept In, The Sun is Slowly Rising give a flavour of the ambience. Jønsson’s sound on guitar, the organic interaction of the trio and a good dose of wry wit and invention make this a recording well worth seeking out.

There’s a big difference in the sound the Jønsson trio make with that of American pianist Marc Copland, but perhaps a closer affinity in the quiet intensity and openness with which the trios interact. Copland passed through UK on a European tour at the beginning of February, touching down in Cardiff, where I caught them , in the lovely theatre at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and at Pizza Express in London where London Jazz caught them with an eye catching ‘photo-essay’ . The most familiar material is transmuted in their hands with Copland colouring and re-shaping melody and harmony on the fly. Drew Gress was on bass and Jonas Burgwinkel on drums, a late sub for Joey Baron, and they were constantly finding quietly pulsating grooves and vamps. Afro Blue went from angular, sideways entrance to a distorted take of the melody, through surging momentum to trance like outro, reducing to a single chiming note from Copland. I spoke to the leader for London Jazz ahead of the tour; seeing them in action was was an extra treat.

Early January/ February may have been quiet, but it’s been filled with beautiful sounds.

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