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«Uma Elmo»
ECM 2702

Danish guitarist Jakob Bro titled «Uma Elmo», after his children – the three years old Dagny Uma and seven months old Osvald Elmo, and composed most of the material between Osvald’s naps when he was newborn. Bro managed to record this album in the midst of the pandemic in over two days in late August and the beginning of September 2020 in the Swiss Radio Studio in Lugano, where the Danish Bro met Norwgian trumpeter Arve Henriksen (who lives in Sweden) and Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy with ECM’s German label manager-producer Manfred Eicher and Italian sound engineer Stefano Amelio,

«Uma Elmo» is the first recording of Bro with Rossy and Henriksen, but all share similar aesthetics, opting for unhurried, hypnotic textures, playing with reserved economy but are great storytellers, gifted with emotional depth and highly poetic language. Bro and Henriksen have collaborated before with poets – Bro with Peter Laugsen, and Henriksen with Elling Varberg and Kjartan Hatløy. Bro admired Roosy’s playing for more than twenty years, especially of his decade-plus tenure in Brad Mehldau Trio (with double bass player Larry Grenadier), and was intrigued by his loose touch and sound, his deep understanding of time and form, as well as a great sense of composition within the composition itself. He played with Rossy before in the Copenhagen Jazz festival, in a tribute concert to Paul Motian and in a trio with Grenadier, that continued to the ECM50 anniversary concert in Warsaw, and now this trio prepares a new album. Surprisingly, Bro listened to Henriksen for the first time only in 2016, but was immediately struck by his sound and wanted to work with him. He met Henriksen for the first time in the studio.

Bro tells that he always sees music as «a reflection, more or less abstract, of what’s going on around us». And, indeed, «Uma Elmo» reflects not only on the dire current era with a touching, vulnerable and melancholic aroma but also on Bro’s musical milestones, experiences and past compositions. Using Motian’s lesson, he reinterprets his «Reconstructing a Dream», originally recorded with Motian on «The Stars Are All New Songs Vol. 1» (Loveland, 2008), as an illustration of the state of mind when he wakes up and starts searching for a lost dream. Bro and Henriksen’s warm and beautiful singing voices blend gently with Rossy’s light, sensitive touch, all intensifying the poetic essence of this dramatic awakening. The following «To Stanko» celebrates the life and sound of the late Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, with whom Bro recorded and toured worldwide for more than five years. Stańko; like Motian, was kind of a mentor to Bro, who has learned from him about the mystery of music, how sounds can move the listener, sometimes with only one note. Obviously, Henriksen’s whispering-singing, quiet sound and attitude is completely different from Stańko’s but his profound soulfulness finds close, mysterious veins with Stańko,

«Beautiful Day» revisits a song Bro wrote in 1998 while he was studying at Berklee College of Music, and asked by his teacher George Garzone to compose a song with a complicated atonal line. Later on, Bro formed the Beautiful Day trio with fellow-Danish sax player Jakob Dinesen, the late bass player Nicolai Munch-Hansen and drummer Jeppe Gram and together they performed this song. Bro admits that he does not write this kind of music anymore, but the open and free approach of Rossy and Henriksen allowed him to connect his past with the present and enjoy the spacious, ethereal atmosphere of this song. Eicher titled the next piece, «Morning Song», performed here twice, and was the first one the trio played on each morning of the recording session. This song deepens the dreamy, abstract atmosphere of «Beautiful Day». «Housework» is more sparse and open to free-improvisation and experimenting with dissonant and tense yet tempting and mysterious sounds and effects, and somehow reflects Bro’s main occupation these days and his gender-equality perspective on the domestic chores.

«Music for Black Pigeons» is dedicated to the memory of Lee Konitz, and was titled by Konitz himself, with whom Bro recorded «Balladeering» (Loveland, 2009). Konitz, apparently, used to call Bro out of the blue and investigate him about his inspiration and influences, and once told him that while he was listening to «Balladeering», a black pigeon landed on his windowsill and sat there while the entire record played, and flew away when the music stopped. Bro turned this engaging story into an openly emotional, poetic ballad, stressing, again, his immediate affinity with Henriksen and Rossy, already sound like they were working together for years. Bro describes «Sound Flower» as a twenty years composition with a suggestive mood that he wrote while trying to write another composition. It is still actual and another beautiful, touching song that proves that even sonic flora is a lovesome thing. «Slaraffenland» is another twenty years old song, originally released on «One Kiss Too» (Stunt, 2007, with Dinesen, Ben Street and Nasheet Waits), a theme song of the Beautiful Day band, but also a song that was included in the repertoire of the European tour of Motian’s Electric Bebop Band, often as an encore. Henriksen sings majestically the engaging melody, embraced gently by Bro’ and Rossy’s light, almost transparent touches. Bro adds that Motian himself was like Bach to me. «He was not supposed to materialize in front of me. But he did». The dreamy sensual «Morning Song (Variation)» concludes this most beautiful album, corresponding cleverly with the opening song «Reconstructing a Dream» and captures faithfully our melancholic times, with all memories and hopes for a better future.

Eyal Hareuveni


Den danske gitaristen Jacob Bro, har de senere årene markert seg som en av landets absolutt ledende gitarister. Og siden platen «Daydreamer» som kom i 2003, har han vist seg som en musiker som beveger seg mye i det samme musikalske landskap som blant andre Bill Frisell. Ved siden av egne utgivelser har han vært å høre sammen med blant andre August Rosenbaum, Jacob Buchanan, Nicolai Munch-Hansen, Jonas Westergaard, Bandapart, Beautiful Day og Povl Dissing, før han dukket opp sammen med internasjonale størrelser som Tomasz Stanko og Paul Motian.

På sitt fjerde album på tyske ECM, får vi et nytt samarbeid med den norske trompeteren Arve Henriksen, pluss den katalanske trommeslageren Jorge Rossy, som Bro har samarbeidet med en stund allerede.

Å høre Bro sammen med Henriksen er et musikalsk samarbeid som rett og slett ikke kan mislykkes. Dette er to musikere som beveger seg i det samme landskapet, med det lyriske som det viktigste element. For noen år siden hørte jeg Henriksen i en relartivt spontan duo med gitaristen Bill Frisell under Moers-festivalen i Tyskland, og mye av det jeg hørte der, forventet jeg nesten å høre igjen på «Uma Elmo», selv om all musikken på denne platen er komponert av Bro.

Og jeg får akkurat det jeg har forventet. Jacob Bros utrolig vakre og lyriske gitarspill, som svever så vakkert, så vakkert av gårde under Henriksens nesten magiske trompetspill. Og fra de starter med «Reconstructing A Dream», via hyllesten til Tomasz Stanko i «To Stanko», via «Beautiful Day», som kanskje er et tilbakeblikk på hans tidligere band hvor han spilte med saksofonisten Jacob Dinesen, bassisten Nicolai Munch-Hansen og trommeslageren Jeppe Gram, og «Music For Black Pigeons», som er en hyllest til en av Bros tidligere samarbeidspartnere, Lee Konitz, og «Slaraffenland», som var en av låtene på platen «Slaraffenland» med Beautiful Day, til avslutningen med en variasjon over «Morning Song» som vi får en annen versjon av tidligere på platen, er dette en sann fryd for ørene.

Det er tydelig at Bro og Henriksen har funnet hverandre i Auditorio Stelio Molo i Lugano i Italia disse dagene i august og september i 2020. Og med Rossy som dannet medspiller og pålegger av små og neddempede trommefigurer, er dette nesten så vakkert det er mulig å gjøre en slik trioinnspilling.

Bros spill er strålende fra start til mål, Henriksens trompet låter nesten sartere og vakrere enn noen gang, og Rossys trommespill er akkurat der det skal være. En aldeles nydelig innspilling, som jeg håper det blir mulig å høre på konsert i København når pandemien er over. Og om i9kke andre tiltak hjelper for å få folk til å følge rådene fra myndighetene for å bli kvitt pandemien, er det bare å friste med muligheten for å få høre denne musikken på konsert når pandemien er over. Så skal du se folk tar til fornuften.

Jan Granlie

Jakob bro (g), Arve Henriksen (piccolo tp, tp), Jorge Rossy (dr)

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