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I.P.A. — Bashing Mushrooms
(Cuneiform Rune 472, 2020, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2020-10-02

Bashing Mushrooms Cover art

With a beautiful blend of melodicism, gentleness, angularity, and spiritual communion, this Norwegian-based jazz supergroup makes a powerful statement on their fifth album overall, their second on Cuneiform, following 2016’s I Just Did Say Something, the group continues on their unique trajectory. This latest recording offers a tasty immersion into spacious melodies and lively rhythms with hints of classic bop amid their own textural fluidity. The group remains a quintet, same as their previous album, with the twin lead voices of Atle Nymo and Magnus Broo driving their melodic qualities and compositions, the former on tenor sax and bass clarinet, the latter on trumpet, with the rhythm section of Ingebrigt Håker Flatenn on double bass and Håkon Mjåset Johansen on drums, with the group’s newest member, the talented vibraphonist Mattias Ståhl, tying their sound together nicely. One might question what the title Bashing Mushrooms is all about, it’s certainly not a reference to anything psychedelic, as the eight tracks here are bristling with clarity and bouyance, passion, and might. While some collective improvisation ties many of the pieces together, everything here is tastefully composed and the free-jazz tag really doesn’t apply. The lively, spirited reach of the album’s title track is at once jumpy, angular, overtly melodic, and features some amazingly powerful trumpet soloing that may seem close to that free thing, but the group picks it right up again without missing a measure and stops on a dime and gives you change. With “Horus Øye,” the group takes a laid back gentle approach, almost dreamy in parts, with the opening measures featuring a beautiful duet of trumpet and vibraphone before the rest of the group joins in. Though fully composed, “Farmor” allows the players a bit more space to stretch out, while opener “Kudeta” (at close to eight minutes) pulls off a similar feeling with powerful dueling horns carrying the melody while vibraphone and rhythm section provide tasteful support. Throughout the album’s eight cuts, there is a strong organic feeling that informs every measure with spirited emotion.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): I.P.A.

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