BY MICHAEL TOLAND
By now, guitarist Jakob Bro is a veteran of the Scandinavian jazz scene. For Returnings, however, he and his stalwart bassist Thomas Morgan call upon the talents of musicians who’ve been plying their trade in Northern Europe for even longer: drummer Jon Christensen and trumpeter/composer Palle Mikkelborg.
No high velocity fusioneer, Bro puts his watery tone to the service of tunes that take their time getting where they’re going. As a rhythm section, Morgan and Christensen walk around the beat more than alongside it – the drummer in particular plays without much care for keeping the pulse. Riding Christensen’s amorphous groove, “Lyskaster” and “Song For Nicolai” saunter forward, not so much relaxed as unconcerned. This approach well suits Bro and especially Mikkelborg, who prefers a sonorous tone and likes to make each note count, rather than engage in pyrotechnics.
Though ostensibly the leader, the Danish six-string master gives his guests plenty of space, often more interested in providing backgrounds over which Mikkelborg and Morgan solo than opportunities for himself. Besides highlighting Bro’s generosity, it makes the times when he does step out, as on Mikkelborg’s purposefully meandering composition “View,” extra special. Other highlights include the title track, an atmospheric Bro-Mikkelborg co-write that sounds like Miles Davis if he did In a Silent Way for ECM, and “Hamsun,” a duet between Bro and Morgan that doesn’t need its high-profile guests to stand out.
Bro has long proven himself a master of his main instrument – with Returnings he shows that he’s come into his own as a bandleader as well.
DOWNLOAD: “View,” “Returnings,” “Hamsun”