Danish drummer Kasper Tom Christiansen’s FUSK quartet is comprised of close musical partners. FUSK’s new member, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski, who replaces German sax player Philipp Gropper, also plays in Christiansen’s Kasper Tom 5, while Christiansen plays in Dąbrowski ‘s Frre4Arts and Hunger Pangs trio; veteran German clarinet player Rudi Mahall also plays in Kasper Tom 5 and in a duo with Christiansen; fellow-Danish double bass player Andreas Lang plays with Christiansen in trumpeter Mads la Cour’s Almugi. FUSK has been working now for ten years, refining its witty and inventive aesthetics. Its fourth album, «The Jig Is Up», continues the quartet’s playful-adventurous journey, moving freely between eras and genres throughout the history of jazz, from the dance-based, New Orleans-ian melodies to the most advanced, extended techniques of free improvisers.
FUSK’s open yet tight rhythmic interplay and its generous space for personal, even eccentric, ideas and interpretations of the themes may bring to mind the seminal free jazz bands of the early 1960’s as the classic Ornette Coleman Quartet, the New York Art Quartet, or Archie Shepp’s early quartet with trumpeter Bill Dixon. But, today, two generations later, FUSK does not suggests a retro-nostalgic journey into a glorious past, nor it offers a musical revolution against today’s musical conventions. FUSK strength lies in its sober and ironic perspective, often equipped with compassionate humor. FUSK. as its title means, just wants to mess around, to distill a colorful puzzle of elements fto its own, present use, constructing and deconstructing these elements at the same breath, literally.
Dąbrowski and Mahall connect immediately and establish a tight, emphatic conversational interplay, singing the melodies. Christiansen and Lang anchor these playful melodies in strong, driving rhythmic patterns, and all four sound as playing live in some smoky jazz club before an enthusiastic audience. You can enjoy such witty, engaging aesthetics on pieces like «Happy New Year», «Pennies» and «Dyrk Dild» Dąbrowski and Mahall articulate the joyful, melodic theme and solidify the straightforward narrative but at the same time flirting with eccentric sounding comments. Christiansen and Lang do alike with the rhythm, moving from a steady, swinging rhythm to an almost pulse-free playing.
Kasper Tom Christiansen (dr), Tomasz Dąbrowski (tp), Andreas Lang (b), Rudi Mahall (bcl, cl)