The sophomore album of the Norwegian modern jazz quintet Mopti (named after Don Cherry’s composition. Cherry named the composition after a town in northeast Mali) teams the group with DJ Bendik Baksaas, who plays on turntables and laptop. This collaboration was premiered on the 2014 edition of Molde Jazz Festival, in attempt to integrate experimental hip-hop sensibilities into Mopti jazz aesthetics.
«Bits & Pieces» present the expanded language and resourcefulness of Mopti musicians since the release of its debut album, «Logic» (Jazzland, 2013). Since that release sax player Harald Lassen and double bass player Christian Meaas Svendsen continued to collaborate as the genre-binding duo Duplex; Svendsen and drummer Andreas Wildhagen play in Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit; Svendsen plays also on Knyst! and Wildhagen in Lana Trio; trumpeter Kristoffer Eikrem leads his own group and guitarist David Aleksander Sjølie is the only one who collaborated before with Baksaas.
The dominant Baksaas adds with his real-time processing work and varied sound samples a dimension of surprise, danger and wise humor to the structured modern jazz language of Mopti. But at the same time Baksaas locks Mopti fiery interplay within a close, fixed rhythmic envelope, too short and compact to reach a balanced common ground. On pieces like «Melody» Lassen intense sax blows sound as about to explode but eventually are caged in repetitive loops. Eikrem beautiful trumpet theme on «How Low Will you Go» is filtered until it sounds distant in outer space, almost losing its moving edge.
Still there are pieces that benefit from such a chaotic dynamics. «Aphrodisiac», with its Sun Ra-tinged samples, or «Highdigger» sound like an updated, looser versions of Miles Davis early seventies electric groups, based on sparse, repetitive rhythmic motives. But too often in this meeting between the known and the unknown, the driving rhythmic force of Mopti is lost within the ambient, sampled textures of Baksass.
Harald Lassen (s, v); Kristoffer Eikrem (tp); David Aleksander Sjølie (g, v); Christian Meaas Svendsen (b); Andreas Wildhagen (dr); Bendik Baksaas: (turntables, laptop)