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Kjell Nordeson, Per Zanussi, Kjetil Moster : MZN3

I’m a sucker for a good sax-bass-drums trio, and this group is definitely that. The two Norwegians (saxophonist Kjetil Moster and bassist Per Zanussi) and Swede (drummer Kjell Nordeson) who make up this band are clever improvisers, with big ears and a perhaps too-stingily rationed inclination to swing. Tunes like “Simoon” effectively juxtapose free-bop and out-of-time free associative passages. Moster’s tenor and baritone work echoes early David Murray to some extent, complete with vibrato-laden whinnies and barely controlled excursions into the horns’ upper register. He also conceives some interesting melodic lines and plies timbre effectively.

Zanussi is a fleet and inventive bassist. He gets around on his instrument like a horn player, without sacrificing quality of sound, which can’t be said of every bassist I’ve heard recently. Nordeson excels at evoking tonal color, which he combines with a tight sense of rhythm. His free playing is focused and solid, and his (relatively) straightahead playing is malleable yet no less intense. Moster occasionally relies on held tones in the upper register that don’t really go anywhere, yet overall the trio is persuasive in its own post-Ornette Coleman way.

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