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«Multiverse» marks Norwegian reeds player-composer-scholar Anders Lønne Grønseth return to his jazz roots, after flirting in recent years with genre-crossing projects as he poly-stylistic Mini Macro Ensemble, the raga-jazz group with guitarists Debashish Bhattacharya and Kenny Wessel and his classically influenced duo with pianist David Skinner. Grønseth’s new quintet features experienced composers-leaders in their own right – pianist Espen Berg, trumpeter Hayden Powell, bass player Audun Ellingsen and icelandic drummer Einar Scheving.

Grønseth’s six composition for this quintet debut album (the second is expected in the spring of 2019) employ wisely the distinct personal qualities of his quintet, allowing generous degrees of «structured freedom», where very little is pre-decided; neither tempos nor grooves, barely a form or order. The compositional core ideas serve as a springboard for personal and collective improvisations and interpretations. But as in all of his projects, a unique concept, this time «Multiverse» as the cosmological concept of parallel universes, guides his compositions. How the parallel and personal sonic universes of the five musicians are channeled into one musical output, and how minor changes in the perspectives – of the musicians or ours, the listeners – can change theirs and ours conception of reality.

Grønseth applies these ideas to compositions like «Parallelism», «Holographic» and «Possible Worlds», all are constructed of two equivalent melodic lines spun around each other in a contrapuntal web of melodic movements. Other compositions like «Möbiusstrimmel» make use of his self-developed tonality system, employing four simultaneous lines make out the melodic maze that suggest a feeling of weightlessness or ambiguity, when the gravity of conventional functional harmony is challenged.

But «Multiverse» is not a high-brow, cerebral study of an eccentric musical philosophy. Grønseth offers delicate, emotionally charged compositions, abstracted by five musicians with singular strong voices and throughout clever, colorful improvisations. The open, searching interplay of this quintet, with its highly melodic and lyrical approach, takes the music to new surprising terrains again and again, highlighting a rare, almost telepathic chemistry.

Eyal Hareuveni

Anders Lønne Grønseth (s, bcl), Hayden Powell (tp), Espen Berg (p), Audun Ellingsen (b), Einar Scheving (dr, perc)

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