Young and gifted Norwegian clarinetist Andreas Røysum, known from the musicians collective Nakama, the Marthe Lea Band and collaborations with German trumpeter Axel Dörner and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood, has a bold musical vision, beautifully presented on his debut album as a bandleader. Røysum ensemble, a tenet of like-minded, young musicians from the vibrant scene of Oslo, «master navigators in the mystical spheres of sound» as he calls them, is comprised of a wind quartet, a string quartet (with two double bass players) and a rhythm section of a drummer and a player of a tabla setup, the tabla tarang. His inclusive aesthetics reference the chamber music of French composer Olivier Messiaen and embraces the gospel-ish hymns of Albert Ayler, but sounds fresh and original and radiates compassionate, joyful and even socialist optimism. Røysum adds: «when several people work together and pull in the same direction, wonders may happen». No better moto for our troubled times.
The self-titled album was recorded on two live sessions in August 2019, each one fills a side of this album, and each one offers a distinct journey. The first side opens with «Nova Dans», with its simple, folky melody that brings to mind the seminal influence of great trumpeter Don Cherry still has on the Nordic jazz, but the solos of sax player Signe Emmeluth and Røysum soon reminds us that we are in a new, different era. «Kvartett fra tidens begynnelse» (Quartet from the Beginning of Time), in its two parts, nods to Messiaen’s influential «Quatuor pour la fin du temps» (Quartet for the End of Time), written while Messiaen was a prisoner of war in German captivity, first performed by his fellow prisoners and begins with a solo clarinet, but suggests now an inclusive pan-African-klezmer-ish, spiritual reunion. The last piece on this side, «Indialuring» relies on the brilliant, sensual rhythmic basis of tabla player Sanskriti Shresta, charging the whole ensemble with addictive, seductive energy.
The second side begins with the enigmatic and joyful «På tur», that relies on the strong interplay of the rhythm section of Shresta and drummer Ivar Myrset Asheim. The second part of «Kvartett fra tidens begynnelse» is a chamber, confrontational texture of the wind quartet, led by Røysum himself, leading to the last, Ayler-ian eruption of «Til Albert». Røysum leads this powerful, spirited waves of uplifting vibrations with natural charisma and engaging elegance.
The modest Røysum is fully aware that he has been «so lucky that external circumstances have given me the opportunity to cultivate my gifts with fantastic friends». Trust him when he says that his music may make your livers brighter, even during our dire times.
Andreas Røysum (cl), Henriette Eilertsen (fl), Signe Emmeluth (as), Marthe Lea (ts), Hans Kjorstad (vio), Joel Ring (c), John Andrew Wilhite-Hannisdal (b), Christian Meaas Svendsen (b), Sanskriti Shresta (tablas), Ivar Myrset Asheim (dr)