Norwegian great bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten celebrated on September 23, 2021 fifty years on earth. Now, based in Trondheim, after living in the United States for more than a decade, is the best time to imagine his personal and musical journey as a Viking odyssey. A journey with its long-range, high speed and strong seaworthiness in a storm, as Martin Eia-Revheim (the founder of Oslo’s Blå club and former artistic director of Kongsberg Jazz festival) suggests in his liner notes, addressing musical heroes and seminal influences, places that shaped his musical path, memories and inspirations. «(Exit) Knarr» was commissioned by Vossa Jazz and its premiere was set to March 2020, but, the pandemic has postponed the premiere twice. Only on the third try on September 26th, 2021 it finally happened (You can read the report from the concert at Vossa Jazz on salt peanuts*, as part of the daily reports from the festiavl only a few days ago).
Håker Flaten’s journey begins with «Miles Ave», dedicated to Austin, Texas (his home was located in Miles Avenue), where he married and divorced, formed The Young Mothers and the Sonic Transmissions Festival. This piece captures the intense passion, the emotional chaos and, obviously, some melancholy, but more than all, the uncompromising zeal to transform these experiences and make our world better. The addictive groove and the solo of trumpeter Eivind Nordset Lønning articulate these feelings faithfully. The following «Brinken», dedicated to his past and current home in Trondheim, where Håker Flaten studied at the influential jazz course at NTNU University and mastered the double bass and where he met his close comrades – pianist Håvard Wiik and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, and formed together Atomic and later The Thing. This is the most ‘in’ piece here, reflecting Håker Flaten’s seminal influences – the duo album of Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Archie Shepp, «Looking at Bird» (SteepleChose, 1981), which he learned by heart, Hermeto Pascoal, György Ligeti and Gil Evans. The lyrical and sweet clarinet solo of Atle Nymo reflects Håker Flaten’s love for this city.
«Håkkåran», for Oppdal, where Håker Flaten was born and where his 90-years-old mother Åse lives on the family farm, and he left when he was 17-years-old. There He began playing the piano, guitar and bass, and at the age of 12, when he played the bass line in Michael Jackson’s «Billie Jean», found his calling. This piece owes much to the great impact Keith Jarrett’s Scandinavian Quartet, with Swedish double bass player Palle Danielsson, had on the young Håker Flaten (and especially the album «My Song», ECM, 1978). The heartfelt interplay of Håker Flaten and pianist Oscar Grönberg captures a similar kind of pastoral, even romantic vibe. «À La Lala Love You» is dedicated to Chicago, where Håker Flaten relocated in 2006 for love but stayed for the music. This piece is a love letter to Chicago and to the Pixies’ «La La Love You» (from «Doolittle», 4AD, 1989), the spirit of Chicago, its music and its musicians. Drummers Olaf Olsen and Veslemøy Narvesen, with Håker Flaten, translate the swinging cymbal ride of the Pixies to a powerful groove, intensified by Nymo’s sax solo and Grönberg’s synth solo.
«Chaos Pad», dedicated to Mexico City, refers to Håker Flaten’s occasional crippling stage right, but also his perfect medicine – to lose yourself totally in the music. The origins of this piece go back to his composition classes in Trondheim in 1995 and continue in his visits to the vibrant and colorful Mexico City, where he has discovered lasting friendships, music and poetry. Håker Flaten’s powerful Mingus-ian bass lines correspond with sax player Mette Rasmussen’s contagious freedom cries, as this piece celebrates the inspiring chaos and the change that is bound to come. The journey ends with «Museumplein», a tribute to Amsterdam, friends and music, and quoting James Blake’s «I Never Learnt to Share» (from his self-titled album, «A&M», 2011). This piece is introduced with the suggestive-exotic guitar of Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir, but soon culminates in a group cathartic blowout, and finally reaching a meditative peace. It highlights Håker Flaten’s role as a natural leader, with a powerful sound of his own, the wisdom to hold it all together, to make it swing and rock, and most of all, to inspire us to make our world more passionate and more compassionate, more harmonious.
Great album by one of the great ones.
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (b), Mette Rasmussen (as), Atle Nymo (ts, Bb cl, bcl), Eivind Lønning (tp), Oddrun Lilja Jonsdottir (v, el.g), Oscar Grönberg (p, keys), Veslemøy Narvesen (dr, perc), Olaf Olsen (dr, perc)