Mette Henriette, Drifting, ECM ***

Lapping piano lines from Norway based Swede Johan Lindvall wash around in the background as sonorous cello from the Australian Judith Hamann delivers a serious backdrop atmosphere to the ever mystical sound of Norwegian tenor saxophonist Mette …

Published: 5 Jan 2023. Updated: 24 days.

Lapping piano lines from Norway based Swede Johan Lindvall wash around in the background as sonorous cello from the Australian Judith Hamann delivers a serious backdrop atmosphere to the ever mystical sound of Norwegian tenor saxophonist Mette Henriette flying on the wild wind of 'I Villvind.' The title track is also streaming ahead of the full album's release later this month. Certainly a sax, cello and piano combination is unusual. Saxophone however dominates more or less completely throughout. The Manfred Eicher mix completed in France compensates for the underpopulation of players given that you feel a wrap around dimension to the listening experience. You don't get a sense of spare minimalism as much as you could if it was a rawer, lonelier, sonic blend.

The 15 pieces were recorded at the Munch museum in Oslo over an extended period that spanned the pandemic period and are all Henriette's, including a co-written piece 'Rue du Renard' with Lindvall. Two substantial ones in terms of length are 'Oversoar' and 'Indrifting You' both around 6 minutes long - the rest often far briefer.

But it seems the whole point of the album is long play and the pieces are like clouds however tiny that contribute to an extensive panoroma where the sky and the landscape appear to blend into one.

mh

Certainly you get a feeling of massive space, occasionally the lilt of an ancient folk music ('Chassé'). The tender deepness of cello as an underpinning only goes to emphasise the weight of the saxophone as a seer-like presence certainly in the stealthy progress of 'Oversoar' and the pronounced tendency towards aching legato that involves a lack of multiple (or any - at least - obvious) chord changes.

Henriette when she debuted on ECM also with Lindvall some eight years ago sounded like an original and that impression remains here. It's a limited palette and less is often more - but the lack of a drummer or percussionist is certainly felt in places although fans of the approach would certainly argue that such a comment is to miss the point given that the sound is about mindful expression where internal rhythms are of course there but hardly need obvious punctuation. It is striking how the saxophone sound is the main interest given the authority of Henriette's style. The Norwegian's sound continues to demand close listening and seems more naturalistic than ever. Out on 20 January

More reading and listening:

Mette Henriette, photo: Anton Corbijn/ECM

Tags: LATESTALBUMS

Sebastian Rochford, Kit Downes, A Short Diary, ECM ****

Readers will be familiar with a few singles already from A Short Diary (referred to in the links below) - each concise, very quiet and contemplative and very complete in their own different ways. All 8 tracks now heard together share these qualities …

Published: 4 Jan 2023. Updated: 24 days.

Next post

Readers will be familiar with a few singles already from A Short Diary (referred to in the links below) - each concise, very quiet and contemplative and very complete in their own different ways. All 8 tracks now heard together share these qualities in common. And there is the intimacy of a duo and the stories of family, and a coming-to-terms with loss and the stages of life, that add layers and gravity to the whole effect.

Very simple and yet deep and mindful there is a clarity to the musical dialogues at every turn. Kit Downes as piano guide and interpreter of Rochford's compositions is less oblique than he can be - and certainly last year's wonderful Vermillion is a completely different aspect to his artistry - and it is fascinating the clarity that Rochford's musical lines delineate.

'Ten Of Us' - Rochford is one of 10 brothers and sisters - is the most significant of the pieces and the drummer is very good here and elsewhere at stealthily entering the musical scene after Downes clears and explains somehow melding serenity with a painterly Debussy like impressionism in some passages expert at creating not just the ultimate culminating note but contributing meaningfully to its if you like after-note meaning via cadential weight and sheer empathy.

SR

Dedicated to Rochford’s father Gerard and including a piece of his called 'Even Now I Think Of Her' that is already streaming the album was recorded at Rochford’s childhood home in Scotland and again sense of place is significant here given how often distance from things we hold dear can be such an obstacle even more psychological than physical. A clinical studio no matter how attuned to musicians' needs would never have, surely, produced such an atmosphere as you get here given the homespun sound of the piano's sonics and the gentle rustle and patterning of Rochford's drumming. Not an album where there is groove or any sense of bravura but like a grandfather clock or the stately creak and movement and sounds of old furniture and buildings a sense of solidity to it all. Above all it is very moving and represents a new phase in Rochford's already remarkable career. Out on 20 January

Sebastian Rochford, photo: Rosie Reed Gold

MORE READING AND LISTENING: