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MATHIAS EICK

Ravensburg

ECM 6710239

  1. Family

  2. Children

  3. Friends

  4. August

  5. Parents

  6. Girlfriend

  7. Ravensburg

  8. For My Grandmothers

    Mathias Eick - Trumpet

    Håkon Aase - Violin

    Andreas Ulvo - Piano

    Audun Erlien - Electric bass

    Torstein Lofthus - Drums

    Helge Andreas Norbakken - Drums, percussion

    This album is the fourth as leader that Mathias Eick has recorded for ECM but he is no stranger to the label, having featured on ECM releases by Manu Katché, Iro Haarla and Jacob Young in the past. In addition, he has had a considerable number of recording dates as a sideman and as a session musician. He plays the trumpet primarily but also piano, vibes, guitar and double bass. His family, too, has a rich musical tradition. Eick's older brother and sister, Johannes and Trude, are, respectively, a bassist and a French horn/electronics instrumentalist. As with his Midwest recording (2015), Eick includes a violinist in his group, on this occasion a rising star of Norwegian jazz, in the shape of Håkon Aase. Aase has worked with Thomas Strønen's group, Time Is A Blind Guide, for instance, and over the past five years has been making a growing impact. Ravensburg gets its title from the town of that name in the Swabian region of Germany from which Eick's grandmother came. In fact, the whole album has the theme of close personal relationships. All the pieces are originals by Eick, none of them overlong. In total, they amount to just over 40 minutes.

    It's fair to say that there is a high level of consistency with regard to quality throughout. I liked especially, however, Children and Girlfriend. Children is a tender, affectionate, almost folky, melody with a lilt. Trumpet and violin blend well. Eick can be heard, too, using his voice very effectively as an instrument. Drums and percussion play an important part here, as so often elsewhere on the CD. Girlfriend is intriguing. More rhythmic, upbeat and positive than much on the album, it features an insistent piano and superlative work by Aase on violin. The same musician is prominent on the opening track, Family. Ulvo on piano maintains the repetitive underlying theme, allowing Aase (who creates an interesting range of sounds) and the richness of Eick's trumpet to emerge, together with some shimmering percussion. Friends, the longest track on the album at a little over six minutes, is both haunting and suffused with melancholy at first but steadily grows more affirmative and strikes a triumphant note at the end. Eick and Ulvo shine. August has a stately and a romantic feel to it. Eick's clarity and quality is complemented by Aase on violin and a piano solo of substance by Ulvo. Parents is melodic, if a shade mournful. Ravensburg is gentle, almost reverential, Eick's voice as well as his trumpet part of the mix. For My Grandmothers is short and sweet, bringing the disc to a satisfying conclusion.

    There is much to admire on this album which, at times, is enchanting. The music has an intimacy which I'm sure will appeal to many listeners. Maybe the mood might be more varied but Eick's playing with its echoes of Kenny Wheeler, Enrico Rava (and inevitably Miles) is top-drawer. Not yet forty years of age, there is much more to come from him, an exciting prospect. The group as a whole reflect the high standards we've come to expect from Norwegian jazz musicians. Is it churlish to want more than forty minutes playing time?

    James Poore

 


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