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Matthew Ruddick

Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Saturday, 11 November 2017 16:44

Marius Neset - Circle Of Chimes

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When I first heard Neset, I thought he and his collective were an oddity. But soon I realised they are a precious jazz commodity.

Marius Neset is a well established  Norwegian musician and composer. He holds a Masters degree at the Copenhagen Rhythmic Conservatory and is already embedded himself in the European jazz history books. At the tender age of 32, this is his sixth solo album with the last four (including this one) on the ACT record label. The music flows through his genes. His parents are musicians as well as his sister Ingrid Neset,who features on this album.

There is plenty of folk, classical and even jazz featured on this album. And the production is typical of recent releases on the ACT label. Lionel Loueke also guests with his mesmerizing guitar and vocalisation in many of the tracks. Overall, it's a good look. 

The downside to Satellite, although creative, has an enduring 30 second intro of silence in, building up for another 60 seconds.  Only then do you begin to appreciate the chimes. This could've almost been 9 minutes of pleasure with fabulous cello movements played by Andreas Brantelid; known for his concertos with the Royal Danish Orchestra. Swishing through mild and fluid tempos, Satellite could be considered a compelling aperitif for the album.

There is a seamless transition to Star from Satellite. It starts as a African-Folk jazz track and is one of spirit. You hear the saxophone and piccolo fusing as brother and sister spearhead this composition. This track fuses with all sorts of genres from  jazz funk to blues, and it will leave its smile on you face. Listen carefully and you may also hear the subtle harmonisation of Lionel Loueke. Nice !

For those that appreciate the contemporary style A New Resolution will have you vocalising with the intro.  Ivo Neame, although rooted in the jazz scene, demonstrates some clean, sharp and funky jazz movements. If you have seen Ivo play, he is animated, even at low tempo which adds to his feel. Neset breaks into the improv and man, he is just full of soul; certainly giving the likes of Joshua Redman a run for their money. However, despite this fabulous track Lionel Loueke is the man of the hour, there is no other imitator.  

Introduction to Prague's Ballet preludes Prague's Ballet - none of which are jazz, however, the complimentary classical insertion to this album is another string to the bow (no pun intended).  

I was listening to  Life Goes On thinking, have I heard this before? Of course I hadn’t, however, I then recalled Chick Corea’s album Friends and other Weather Report tunes, which have very similar styles. This track is the epitome of jazz funk, with all its vibraphone, snazzy-drumming and flutes. This is my favourite track scoring an unprecedented 11 out of 10. It’s up there!

A compelling syncopated funky time signature describes Sirens of Cologne. All the instruments a locked and phased for this helter-skelter of a tune. We all know Neset’s skill-set, however, in terms of meter and rhythm, Perrer Eldh plays the bass straight from the era of post-bop. The track is alive with energy.

The Silent Room represents more classical music as opposed to sombre jazz, however, you may say different. You may go as far to say “we don’t care!”. Whatever you say you, the listener, the reader, the fans will be right. Neset is a genius. This track breaths life, as all the instruments share the stage and can be distinctly heard contributing to this powerful, irresistible composition fit for the chamber or the orchestral audience.  

1994 may be it’s title, however, stuck in time, it is not. This beautiful creation features the strong sounds of the cello and flute as they dance around like leaves in the wind. The sound is organic and natural invoking the impromptu fillings by the Jim Hart on the vibraphone.  This vortex track rises and falls, it comes and goes. It is remarkable. 

Eclipse has a very long intro, two and a half minutes to be precise - it’s a clever intro and one could almost say it's a improv of sort, before the crescendo; it ends as quickly as it began. 




Marius Neset - Tenor & Soprano Saxophone

Lionel Loueke - Guitar & Vocals

Andreas Brantelid  - Cello

Ingrid Neet  - Flute, Piccolo & Alto Flute

Ivo Neame - Piano

Jim Hart - Vibraphone, Marimba & Percussion

Perrer Eldh - Double Bass

Anton Eger  - Drums & Percussion



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