Vinkeloe_elegans_span3
June 2006

Biggi Vinkeloe, Damon Smith, Kjell Nordeson
Elegans
Nuscope Recordings

Bowed double bass makes me think of an elephant wearing a tutu or a pastry chef trying to frost a wedding cake with a snow shovel. Damon Smith sounds like he’s put in a lot of work learning to play arco, and he does a respectable job. Nevertheless, his occasional over-reliance on the bow gives this otherwise light, airy music a ponderous quality.

On flute and alto sax, Biggi Vinkeloe is a graceful player, inclined toward slow, unadorned melody—except, of course, when she’s being fast and ornate, which happens more and more as the album goes along. Vibist/drummer Kjell Nordeson can likewise be careful and considerate, quick and impetuous. Smith is better when playing pizzicato. His touch is lighter, his ideas more free-flowing and his contribution generally more appealing.

Ultimately, the disc is a showcase for Vinkeloe, and she proves herself an engaging player, abstract but ineffably accessible. I’ve said it before—there are an infinite number of free improvisations floating around out there in the ether, just waiting for musicians to give them form and commit ’em to disc. This one’s better than most, not as good as some.

Originally published in June 2006
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