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Norrbotten Big Band: Future North

This is a tour de force of big band writing and playing. American trumpeter Tim Hagans, artistic director of the Lulea, Sweden-based band, composed and arranged the music. As a writer, he has roots in Ernie Wilkins, Thad Jones, and the Gil Evans-Miles Davis collaborations. (Twenty or so years ago, Hagans performed in Scandinavian bands led by Jones or Wilkins.) The charts are rhythmic, intricate, and kaleidoscopic.

Hagans’ three-part “Future North Suite” begins with pedal-tone bass and rockish drums. After a punchy horn unison, the band dissolves into a spacey, Bitches Brew-like segment. There’s a collective ad-lib by the full band and a soprano saxophone solo by Hakan Brostrom. The closing ensemble suggests Thad. This is an example of Hagans’ ability to mix and match. On “Waking Iris” he works Birth of the Cool voicings into the chart, which, again, climaxes in a Thaddian style.

The band is impeccable, its chops showing in tricky convoluted counterpoint (e.g., “Twist & Out”) as well as in simpler tutti passages where it breathes as one. Hagans solos frequently-the composer dancing through his creation. The Swedish soloists are hip and in tune with the moods of his charts.

Originally Published