The Danish collective Alawari was formed in 2016 and gained national recognition the following year when it won Denmark’s Young Jazz competition, but only now releases its debut album. The self-titled album distills the recent years of close work and touring, and offers the band’s musical manifesto that attempts to revitalize the authentic music experience. This sextet (and often a septet) is inspired by the legacy of spiritual free jazz, with its revolutionary spirit and a clear passion for rebellion and freedom of expression.
Alawari calls itself a 21st Century Liberation Orchestra – a clear reference to the seminal Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra – and sounds like a much bigger outfit than it actually is. The band features the rhythm section of pianist Sune Sunesen Rendtorff, double bass player Jonatan Melby Bak and drummer Simon Forchhammer, plus a frontline of three horn players – trumpeter Carlo Janusz Becker Lauritsen, alto sax player Asger Uttrup Nissen and tenor sax player Frederik Engell. Alawari is often augmented by the live electronics and sampling of Eigil Pock Steenm, who places Alwaari’s free improvisations and free jazz aesthetics deep in a modern world of audio processing, spoken word, synth textures, and sampling.
The eleven pieces are not credited to any of Alawari’s musicians, and all testify to the almost telepathic, multilayered and powerful dynamics, balancing cleverly the boundless energy with thoughtful arrangements. This band likes to take risks and is not shy from chaotic, confronted improvisations, nor from engaging harmonies. Intense and ecstatic pieces like «Misundelse» demonstrate the unique sonic vision of Alawari, while the shiny groove of «Sunes Hit» captures the sensual side of the band. «Stone» and «Revolution» prove that Alawari can blend both approaches in one song. The repetitive minimalism of «Etude» and the quiet drone «Elegi» stress the elements of new music in Alawari. «Sorg Part 1 & 2» with beautiful, expressive solos of the horn sections pays respect to the first generation of South African free jazz. These impressive pieces answer Alawari’s concept: to tear the listeners’ world apart, before inviting them to pick up the pieces and put it back together again!
Sune Sunesen Rendtorff (p), Carlo Janusz Becker Lauritsen (tp, flh), Jonatan Melby Bak (b), Asger Uttrup Nissen (as), Simon Forchhammer (dr), Frederik Engell (ts), Eigil Pock Steen (live proc, samp)