Fattigfolket: Le Chien et la Fille

Maybe only someone with ears twisted into pretzels by years of playing and listening to weird jazz would say this, but if I had my druthers, the music made by this young Swedish/Norwegian quartet would exemplify today’s jazz mainstream. Not that there’s anything middle-of-the-road about them. Their music is smart and fresh, even distinctive. But it also grooves and swings, adheres to relatively conventional harmonic norms and emphasizes attractive melody and formal coherence.

Saxophonist Hallvard Godal and trumpeter Gunnar Halle work well together, playing the heads with a loose precision and soloing with lyrical panache. Godal plays with a quavering, expressive tone–often cool but hot enough when he gets wound up. Halle descends from the lineage of expressionist trumpeters. Bassist Putte Frick Meijer and drummer Ole Morten Sommer do a superb job laying down the funkish/bossaish/ swingish grooves. The group doesn’t suggest a new paradigm; they mildly subvert an old one, resulting in an accessibility that doesn’t pander.