Norwegian reeds player-composer-scholar Anders Lønne Grønseth and his Multiverse quintet – trumpeter Hayden Powell, pianist Espen Berg, double bass player Audun Ellingsen and drummer Einar Scheving, are inspired by contemporary modal music, most notably from the works by Olivier Messiaen, Arnold Schönberg, Paul Hindemith and Béla Bartòk as well as jazz musicians who used improvisation over chords and chord sequences, and Indian Raga and the Middle-Eastern maqams. Grønseth calls this modal-harmonic system the bitonal scale system and it has been the main source of his compositions for some time now.
But as Grønseth says, making music is about a lot more than rigid theoretical constructions, and the third album of Multiverse, «Outer View», proves that the tonal language of this quintet relies much more on intuitive response, listening interaction and musical openness. Grønseth’s intricate compositions on previous albums of Multiverse and here, and for the first time here commissioned compositions of Powell, Berg, Ellingsen and Scheving for the quintet, allow free, moment-based improvisations within the complex compositional structures and are fed by the tension between the freedom and the well-crafted and layered structures. And this is the essence of Multiverse – five personal, musical micro-universes interact to form a multiverse of impulses, about the input of five individuals who form a whole with their personal perspectives.
«Outer View»highlights the strong musical identity of Multiverse. The seven distinct compositions adopt a similar and consistent approach but each one expands in its own personal way the quintet aesthetics. Berg’s openly lyrical «Bilyrical» offers an engaging melodic theme and enjoys a poetic solo by Powell. Scheving’s «Desafinito», with Grønseth playing the straight alto sax, stresses the immediate and constant shape-shifting interactions within Multiverse, especially between Grønseth and Powell and Berg. Ellingsen’s «Escalon» explores how the rhythmic basis of the quintet – Berg, Ellingsen and Scheving, pushes the front line of Grønseth and Powell. Grønseth’s «Bifokal» constantly shifts between a contemplative, balladic form and complex rhythmic patterns. Powell’s «Bipolar Penguin Express» deepens the lyrical, balladic elements but in a familiar jazz form while highlighting the beautiful voice of Powell, and his brief and touching «Bikoral» concludes this demanding but intriguing listening experience.
Anders Lønne Grønseth (ts, straight as, bcl), Hayden Powell (tp), Espen Berg (p), Audun Ellingsen (b) Einar Scheving (dr)