The ad-hoc free-improvising trio of German trumpeter Axel Dörner, Norwegian tenor sax player Marthe Lea and Danish vocal artist Birgitte Lyregaard was recorded live at The Monday Club (in a series of performances curated by drummer Kresten Osgood) and Klub Primi in Copenhagen in February 2020, few days before Europe went into the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Dörner is known for his research oכ extended trumpet techniques and musical structures and has collaborated with innovative free-improvisers like Otomo Yoshihide, Paul Lovens and Phil Minton. Lea is also a vocalist and percussionist and is influenced by free jazz, Norwegian folk music, Moroccan Gnawa and traditional Indian music, and recently released a trio album with drummer Thomas Strønen and pianist Ayumi Tanaka («Bayou», ECM, 2021). Lyregaard, defines herself as a vocal equilibrist who composes instant poetry and strives to use all possible sounds that the voice can make in her music.
The phrase «Huckleberry Friend» means the best or ideal person for the job (and quoted in Johnny Mercer’s song «Moon River» from the film «Breakfast at Tiffany’s»). And it is clear that Dörner, Lea and Lyregaard are perfect partners for the demanding task of playing spontaneous music, in their own personal languages and their unique palette of sounds, never to be repeated again.
«Huckleberry Friend» offers 12 short improvisations that highlight the rich and wild imagination of these improvisers, as individuals and as a trio. Dörner and Lea often expand the free-associative, bewitching vocalizations of Lyregaard, sing her playful songs, tease and provoke her, and comment on her instant poetry, child-like babbling, suggestive whispers and operatic gestures with sharp and ironic gestures. The trio never settles on structured forms and is focused on subversive yet quite emphatic dynamics and on searching for more challenging ways to integrate the twisted sounds of trumpet, saxophone, and the human voice. On few pieces the interplay becomes more intense and ecstatic but, somehow, this trio succeeds to maintain a fragile, democratic balance, with healthy doses of invention, elegance and engaging beauty.
Axel Dörner (tp), Marthe Lea (ts), Birgitte Lyregaard (v)