Living Things is the collaborative ensemble of Danish sax player Sven Dam Meinild and French pianist-vibes player Paul Wacrenier. Both composers incorporate into the jazz vocabularies ideas and sounds from near and far away folk traditions – obviously the French and Danish ones, but also elements from the musical traditions from Greenland, Japan, Mongolia and the Pygmies vocal tradition.
«Upwind Circles» is the debut album of this ensemble. It features Copenhagen-based musicians – fellow Barefoot Records label-collective member, Polish trumpet player Tomasz Dąbrowski, who hosted Meinild in his FREE4ARTS quartet («Six Months and Ten Drops», Barefoot, 2015) and collaborated with him in the international quartet Ocean Fanfare («Imagine Sound Imagine Silence», Barefoot, 2014), and the rhythm section of bass player Casper Nyvang Rask and drummer Rune Lohse.
The atmosphere of this album is more reserved and introspective, even melancholic, compared to the festive one of another ensemble of Wacrenier – The Healing Orchestra. That ensemble also draws its inspiration from far away musical traditions, mainly African and Afro-American, and recorded its debut album on 2015, as the Living Things.
The front line of Meinild, Dąbrowski and Wacrenier abstract the strong, expressive and melodic themes, stressing a close and emphatic interplay, while the rhythm section of Nyvang Rask and Lohse provides a light, driving support. Meinild tribute to groundbreaking poetic work of Louis Thomas Hardin, «Moondog», is answered by Wacrenier «Line for Wolves», both adopt a suggestive-contemplative atmosphere. Meinild flirts with a Balkan theme on «Spent 10 Minutes Looking at Trees», based on a graphic score that was used for the cover, later reprised as an African song, and leads a Balkanized flute choir on «Mey Duo», with all the musicians play different flutes. Wacrenier highlights meditative African percussive patterns on his solo «Ce qui vit», immediately transformed into the minimalist, serene «Drones». His «Living Things», which appeared also on the Healing Orchestra album, receives a more playful arrangement here.
A beautiful gem, full of mysterious, tempting melodies and commanding ensemble performance.
Sven Dam Meinild (s, mey, fl), Tomasz Dąbrowski (tp, fl), Paul Wacrenier (p, vib, m’bira, fl), Casper Nyvang Rask (b, fl); Rune Lohse (dr, fl)