I've always liked saxophonist Tineke Postma. She made such a big impact at the beginning of her career. But it's been so long since I've heard anything by her and scary to think that For the Rhythm featuring Terri Lyne Carrington was released 15 years ago although there have been quite a few records since. Freya reinforces the fact that she has always had a great technique and stood out from the crowd. But now there is more to say so much so that Freya feels like a box set and not just an album.
It is a pretty impressive band she leads to say the least but it is the stunning quality of the compositions that really are magnetic not necessarily the dazzling nature of the playing although that is a thing too.
All leaders in their own right (Ralph Alessi on trumpet; Kris Davis, playing piano; Matthew Brewer on double and electric bass; Dan Weiss on the drums) recorded in the States the year before last Alessi dominates the opening statements of 'Parallax', a certain nihilist energy here emerging hatching from a freebop beginning.
A mythical warrior queen inspires 'Scáthach's Isle of Skye' that has a certain ominous feel to its beginning and one thing the album contains is a sense of something unfolding unexpectedly and where patience as a listener is rewarded.
Postma compares a little to the method of Ingrid Laubrock but she is less an out and out avant player and a very different kind of composer. On the dark meditation on antiquity and the tangled histories of the lovers 'Aspasia and Pericles' there is a panoramic very orchestral vision achieved even with such a small group, Davis' deft pianism circling the ensemble sound. Postma manages to harness the ache and sense of moment you get sometimes when you listen to Ornette Coleman and when she takes more of an upfront role at the beginning of 'In the Light of Reverence' she then bypasses that style to break new ground with Alessi in what becomes an intense ballad.
The title track 'Freya' built up by Davis allows both horn players to bump along against uncertain rhythmic turbulence and Weiss is good throughout at providing a certain buoyancy that the music needs. In other words it is not anchorless music.
Brewer at the beginning of 'Heart to Heart' is quite vulnerable on this solo run. In context it works fine and releases some of the tension the album contains. Postma's solo has a lonesome quality and with Alessi interjecting their conversation has a quiet intensity to it, again recalling Ornette and Don Cherry's innate understanding of each other. Brewer bounces 'Juno Lucina' into another space entirely and 'Geri's Print' towards the end again allows Davis room to capture the ensemble in her own wide angle lens. State of the art improvising, then, and surely a milestone in Postma's career.