The Upshot: Danish guitar maestro’s latest won’t set the world afire, but it may just insinuate itself into its dreams.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Danish guitarist Jakob Bro is a veteran of the Scandinavian jazz scene, as well as ensembles led by Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko and late drummer Paul Motian. He also has a solo career going back to the early ‘aughts. His second record for ECM, Streams finds Bro accompanied by longtime sidekick Thomas Morgan on bass and NYC jazz mainstay Joey Baron on drums. Baron can be a heavy hitter, as his work with various fusion and free jazz ensembles indicates, but here he lays back, using brushes, cymbals and sometimes just the click of his sticks on the edges of his kit to keep time and embellish the rhythms. That approach works well with Bro, who avoids barnburning and pushes melody and atmosphere over frenzy. “Opal” and “Heroines” rely as much on volume swells and sustained chords as on single note lines, while “PM Dream” (a tribute to Motian) drives gently into the ether without floating off untethered. Morgan showcase “Shell Pink” and a solo guitar take on “Heroines” emphasize melody over everything else, while “Sisimiut” adds a noisy edge to the plangent guitar lines. Only “Full Moon Europa” swings in the traditional sense, starting out dreamy and building to a frenetic climax. But firepower is not the biggest arrow in Bro’s quiver; instead his attention to the notes and how they’re used aims true. Streams won’t set the world afire, but it may just insinuate itself into its dreams.
DOWNLOAD: “Full Moon Europa,” “Shell Pink,” “Heroines (Var.)”