«What You Wish For», the sophomore album of The Norwegian quartet Ape Club, present the evolution of this fine group. Ape Club was founded in autumn 2011 as an acoustic jazz quartet that blends elements of bop and early free jazz. On its debut, self-titled album from 2013 Ape Club already began to explore song formats that incorporated elements of pop songs, local folk music and Afro-beat. This approach is stressed even further on the new album.
Ape Club features four experienced musicians. Sax player Kasper Værnes played in Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit and in the Knyst! trio and leads his own quartet; trombonist Øyvind Brække plays with The Source and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, for which he composed the impressive «Migrations» (MNJ, 2015), and recorded with countless others; bass player Julius Lind leads his own quartet and drummer Erik Nylander plays with Ola Kvarnberg Trio and collaborates with Kvarnberg in another trio, with vocalist Kirsti Huke, and like Brække, recorded with many more.
The seven pieces correspond with conventional jazz structure of head-improvisation-head but take this format to looser ends. Lind and Nylander set an open and spacious rhythm, still, a driving one. Værnes and Brække develop the strong melodic theme through passionate solos, both suggest different veins that intensify the dramatic tension of each piece. Brække solos on the opening, exotic «Mammut», the ironic «Afro green» and the boppish «Furtherlife» tend to be free-associative, more intense and often based on sound searching ideas while Værnes charges his solos with gentle, lyrical power. This approach is highlighted again on the longer «Commodore» and «How Many?» that offer more room for all to improvise freely. Lind sings on the last «Careful what you wish for», a pop song that packs the essence of Ape Club in a beautiful and moving arrangement.
Kasper Værnes (s), Øyvind Brække (tb) Julius Lind (b), Erik Nylander (dr)