Karl Seglem: NyeSongar.No (2013)
Looking at the cover of the album NyeSongar.no, there's no doubt that the Norwegian saxophonist and goat horn-player Karl Seglem is still exploring the Nordic aesthetic that he perfected on his album NORSKjazz.no (Ozella, 2009). The resemblance between the titles is striking and it is underlined by a Nordic iconography. NORSKjazz.no had an image of tall Norwegian trees and NyeSongar.no is graced by a photograph of an endless landscape covered by snow. In the foreground there is a stone and it has a pile of goat horns beside it.
It is almost tempting to think that Seglem himself would walk into the picture and pick up one of the horns and blow into it and let the high lonesome sound of the Norwegian landscape travel through the air like a long lost Nordic blues. Indeed, this is the image he conjures on "Dordei" where his fellow travelers from the Eple trio add to the musical magic.
Andreas Ulvo plays the piano with elegiac sensitivity and exploratory zest. In the composition "Drömvisa," written by Göran Fristorp, each note receives attention and falls like a snowflake on the ground while Seglem shapes a melody that seems as old as the folk songs that have inspired him. The name of the song could be translated as "Dream Ballad," a fitting title to a lovely melody that is a welcome addition to Seglem's repertoire.
Bassist Sigurd Hole and drummer Jonas Howden make sure that the music is in motion. It is not easy to change between free playing and abstract tempo and simple lyrical folk melodies, but this is a balance that this rhythm section is capable of.
In the liner notes, Seglem says that: "simple, clean and lovely were our key words for the first quartet album. I am trying to continue that pattern here, with a focus on melody. At the same I feel this recording is more open and confident, while it is also inquisitive and searching."
It is the balance between lyrical transparency and musical freedom that defines the artistic merit of NyeSongar.no. These songs both feel old and new, melodic and free. If the winds blowing across the Norwegian landscape could sing, they would sing these melodies.
Track Listing: Desembersongen; Porten; Angular momentum; Din folketone; Dordei; Drömvisa; Nordover; Inn i juni; Etter snø (Odda).
Personnel: Karl Seglem: tenor saxophone, goat horn, voice; Andreas Ulvo: piano; Sigurd Hole: bass; Jonas Howden Sjøvaag.