Mongrel Taskenspill Losen Records ***

No one is being sold a pup here. A Norwegian quartet making their debut, recording Taskenspill in an Oslo studio in March this year the tunes written by the band’s trumpeter Thomas Litleskare, bassist Stian Andersen, and pianist Johan Lindvall (drummer Tore Flatjord the only non-writer here). All four met while studying at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.

‘Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That’ has a loose early free-jazz flavour to it, Lindvall a little like Paul Bley, angular and poised, Litleskare entering the Don Cherry domain tonally, the album possessing its fair share of avantisms offset by a bittersweet melancholia emerging particularly on ‘Tenners Gnissel.’ Yet out-and-out improv episodes take the quartet on an exhilarating ride heading in a completely different direction again on ‘Victoria’. There’s plenty of edge throughout but no one’s trying to outshine anyone, the title track alone entering a very deep absorbing space. A pleasant surprise: seek this one out. 

Released on CD in the UK/Ireland on 17 November