July 29, 2019
Exits into a Corridor
Møster, Parker, Abrams & Herndon
Clean Feed CF 457 CD
A Norwegian saxophonist playing in a quartet including an American guitarist plus bass and drums could produce CDs that are mirror images of one another. Instead there’s very little to link Exits into a Corridor and Ran Do except personnel. For a start the five tracks on Exits into a Corridor were all composed by Norwegian bassist Rune Nergaard who is in as many local combos such as Bushman's Revenge, as fellow young Norwegian saxophonist Kristoffer Berre Alberts, known for his work with Cortex. Americans, drummer Jim Black and sometime Wilco guitarist Nels Cline fill out the group and everyone plays in a style that much closer to excessive Rock dynamics than slippery Jazz improvisations. Those other elements are most obvious on Ran Do’s five instance compositions. Here the saxophonist is Norwegian Kjetil Møster, the guitarist Jeff Parker, member both of the AACM and Isotope 217, while the other Chicagoans on board are bassist Joshua Abrams and drummer John Herndon from the Exploding Star Orchestra and Tortoise.
Although “First Light”, the first track of the suite that make up Exits into a Corridor appears headed towards ambient music as do Nergaard’s string strokes on “Moves Away from the door”, which oddly sounds like a variance of “God save the Queen”, the other tracks are firmly wedded to guitar power chords, pounding drum beats and screeching saxophone expositions. With much of the material seems as if it migrated from a psychedelic freak out in San Francisco’s Fillmore Ballroom in the late 1960s, the challenge here is to keep the pieces moving without subsiding into arena-Rock sludge. The band does that on “…back towards the car – Night” with crying altissimo runs, guitar flanges, pounding percussion expressed, but not to excess. Still a cartoon-music-like variant of so-called Heavy music is more likely to be heard, especially when mated with stratospheric reed screams and undifferentiated feedback as the finale on the give-away titled “Two More Times”. Even “Manufacturing a smile (Exits into a corridor)”, the longest and concluding track, suffers from the same sort of excess, with dragging slurs from Alberts that are mulched together with guitar frails and end with electrified organ-like whooshes that coalesce into vibrating drone to the extent that no instrument stands out.
While Ran Do may begin with an extended drum solo, succeeded by angled spurts and trills from Møster, Parker’s subtle slides with buzzing throbs sailing over Abrams’ beat preserves a more skilful narrative. In fact if you didn’t know the personnel, you might think that the final “Pajama Jazz” with its flutter-tongued reed spurts and variable slides and positioned guitar licks backed by double-stopped bass and clear clatter drumming was an outtake from an Eddie Harris cut from the mid-1970s. More descriptively, “Anicca”, the penultimate track, outlines exactly the freedom engendered by this ad-hoc quartet. With a loping beat that just stops short of a march, Shaft soundtrack-era licks mix with eerie outer-space-like whispers in Parker’s solo, and following an intermezzo of near pan-flute emphasis from the saxophonist , the piece calms down into change-of-pace runs, drum clanks and a finale involving a wiggly sax-guitar duel.
Should your taste run to pulverizing near-Rock hard textures than EXOTERM could be a favorite. For others the slinky, subtle improvisations of Møster, Parker, Abrams & Herndon may be preferable.
Track Listing: Exits: 1, First Light 2, Forest Mist – Night 3. …back towards the car – Night 4. Moves Away from the door 5. Two More Times 6. Manufacturing a smile (Exits into a corridor)
Personnel: Exits: Kristoffer Berre Alberts (tenor and alto saxophones); Nels Cline (guitar); Rune Nergaard (bass) and Jim Black (drum, electronics)
Track Listing: Ran: 1. Orko 2. Dig Me Out 3. Island Life 4. Anicca 5. Pajama Jazz
Personnel: Ran: Kjetil Møster (tenor saxophone); Jeff Parker (guitar); Joshua Abrams (bass) and John Herndon (drums)