Pixel — Reminder
(Cuneiform Rune 342, 2012, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-04-01
This new Norwegian jazz quartet features drums, double bass, trumpet, tenor and soprano sax, and vocals. Bandleader Ellen Andrea Wang is the lead voice and double bass, and also responsible for all the compositions and lyrics. While they operate squarely in the jazz idiom, the lack piano or any other chordal instrument in the lineup often gives their sound a chamber quality, with the interplay between saxes and trumpet providing melodic coloration over the busier rhythm section. That said, the arrangements on some of these ten cuts tend toward the aggressive, and sometimes even approaches rock energy. The vocal passages, which are offered sparingly, make all the difference, and clearly add light, strength, variety and color to all the proceedings. One listen to a cut like "Wake Up," which encompasses all the strengths of this ensemble – and the vocals – will have the listener reaching for the repeat button in short order. There are pastoral instrumental cuts also, where their style of gentle improvisation gives every player room to stretch out and be heard, without any one dominating the show. All taken, Pixel offers an outstanding recipe that's unique, completely listenable, and compelling.
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