Almugi is an ancient Scandinavian word that means free men of the Kingdom who possess the ability of goodness. Almugi is also the name of Danish composer-cornet and flugelhorn player Mads La Cour outfit, now releasing its fourth album as a quartet featuring fellow Danish reeds player Lars Greve and drummer Kasper Tom Christensen – all coming from the Danish island of Fyn and all are in their late thirties, and Polish double bass player Mariusz Praśniewski. Previous Almugi albums featured La Cour leading an octet, «Large Ensemble» (2015), «Duo», with drummer Anders Mogensen (2015) and «Quartet» (2016, all released on WhyPlayJazz), with the same personnel, except bass player Andreas Lang.
«Hule» was recorded on May 2017 in Germany and emphasizes the highly personal sound and compositional voice of La Cour, anchored in an intimate, emphatic setting and rooted in the Nordic lyrical jazz legacy. True to ancient meaning of Almugi, La Cour music attempts to capture an optimist spirit of all the good and beauty that surrounds us. La Cour compositions reflect at the same time his concern about human indifference, lack of altruism around us and his anger about the wrong people who have gained powerful positions.
The nine piece offer La Cour’s answers to nowadays world’s wonders and wounds. A medley of melodic compositions titled «Immer Schön» (always be nice in German) opens, divided and concludes «Hule», stressing the subtle and balanced interplay of this quartet. «Terminus», referring to a French jazz club that offers ideal working conditions, and «Bølgebop, Bølgebop» suggest a more intense and rough atmosphere that highlights the nuanced conversational interplay between La Cour and Greve and the clever rhythmic work of Christiansen and Praśniewski.
The aggressive «Støjland Møgland» alludes to to Inger Støjberg, the Danish Minister for Immigration, Integration, and Housing, and its open and inclusive dialog of four opinionated improvisers sounds as a clever criticism on her reactionary policies. The title-piece, cave in Danish, answers the previous angry pieces with an engaging and emotional offer for a safe haven. «Gammelton» continues this vein. This is La Cour tribute to his parents, a kind of a rhythmic hymn that emphasizes again the organic, intimate interplay of this excellent quartet.
Mads la Cour (cor, flh), Lars Greve (cl, bcl, ts), Kasper Tom Christiansen (dr), Mariusz Praśniewski (b)