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På skive


«A Living Past»

«A Living Past» was recorded before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic into the Western world, but is labeled by pianist-poet-composer Eliot Cardinaux as an album that asks «what it means to live beyond this moment of historical criss». Cardinaux teams again with Danish musicians – double bass player Asger Thomsen (who played in Cardinaux’s «Our Hearts as Thieves» and «Magpie: Six Feet on Solid Ground», The Bodily Press, 2018 and 2019), alto sax player Jonas Engel (who played on «Our Hearts as Thieves») and a newcomer, drummer Simon Forchhammer. The album was recorded in January 2020 in Copenhagen.

The opening piece, «Ion», reflects on Cardinaux’s early experiences on the downtown New York scene in bands led by saxophonists Pete Robbins and David Binney, highlighting the organic and immediate interplay of Cardinaux and Engel. Cardinaux recites the angry «Age Old Tale», focusing on a culture of addiction and fetishization in which even the most sacred of ideals are consumed as commodities, and his poetic observations are stressed by the rhythm section of Thomsen and Forchhammer. «Little Waltz» emphasizes again the playful affinity of Cardinaux and Engel. The quarter revisits «Invitation to a Dream», an older composition by Cardinaux, a kind of ironic take on mainstream jazz.

«Coming of Age», the most impressive piece here, draws on the painful memories of 9.11, and its cultural aftermath, climate anxiety and the rise of white supremacy delivered and corporate feudalism in the United States. It is delivered with great restraint by Cardinaux, with imaginative contributions and pointalistic counterpoint of the quartet. But the singing voice of Cardinaux on «Disillusionment» is not convincing as his haunting lyricism of the poem. Thomson introduces the rhythmic and restless «Theme». The last piece, «Dark Chorale», with its gentle melody is described as a piece where its «intermittent vamp provides as an expressive warning for the times».

A mixed and obviously, versatile album, that promises more than it can deliver. But some magic happens when the poetics of Cardinaux match the attentive and imaginative work of his Danish cohorts.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Eliot Cardinaux (p, v), Jonas Engel (as), Asger Thomsen (b), Simon Forchhammer (dr)

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