There are some benefits for being a globetrotter musician. There are not a lot of places on this plant that legendary Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love has not played in, leaving aside for now Antarctica and the Northern Pole. In his countless tours Nilssen-Love finds new comrades and new free jazz scenes as the one in Malaysia, where he met experimental-free jazz-noise sax player Yong Yandsen, one of the co-founders of the local EMACM (Experimental Musicians & Artists Co-operative Malaysia). The ever resourceful Nilssen-Love organized an extensive Southeast Asia tour with Yandsen and his colleague from his Large Unit, bass player Christian Meaas Svendsen, during the fall of 2018.
«Hungry Ghosts» is the debut, live recording of this trio, captured at Livefact, Kuala Lumpur on October 2018. And as you can see by the cover art, designed by Meaas Svendsen and released by his own label Nakama, this trio is heading straight forward to meaty bones (maybe inspired by Peter Brötzmann’s classic trio album, «The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Meat» (FMP, 1979), with bass player Harry Miller and drummer Louis Mohlo). Nilssen-Love adds that this trio is playing free-improvised music «in the somewhat European tradition» and, indeed, the first impression of Yandsen tone on the tenor sax is how well-versed he is indebted to the work of Brötzmann, Mats Gustafsson or Ken Vandermark.
The first part of the dense 39-minutes, title-piece marks that the, strong-minded, muscular three gentlemen are ready to shake our globe with their intense, emotional love cries while searching for anything that can satisfy their cravings. Yandesen immediately jumps to higher stratospheres, ready to fight, head on with all kinds of ghosts, totally possessed in his own in his own sax attacks. The explosive rhythm section of Meaas Svendsen, playing playing with 2-3 bows, cheek, voice, hands and feet, and Nilssen-Love clashes and pushes Yandsen further into dark, deep space. But later on the trio explores a totally different dynamics that suggests another way to fulfill its hunger. Meaas Svendsen and Nilssen-Love sketch together a looser rhythmic basis for a more contemplative, quieter and abstract interplay, where Yandsen can demonstrate his personal, surprisingly lyrical and gentle voice. This kind of interplay leads the trio to explore layers upon layers of inventive and rhythmic games that cement the profound, intuitive understanding of Nilssen-Love and Meaas Svendsen and the organic manner of integrating Yandsen’s playful bird calls. This trio refuses to follow common free jazz dynamics and strategies and avoids an obvious cathartic eruption. The second piece, «Still Hungry», builds its burning tension and power carefully, contrasting Nilssen-Love’s ceremonial drumming and Yandsen’s sax howls and shouts, fully prepared to exorcise all the hungry ghosts from the performance space.
Yong Yandsen (ts), Christian Meaas Svendsen (b), Paal Nilssen-Love (dr)