Anne Mette Iversen: Invincible Nimbus (Brooklyn Jazz Underground)

A review of the Danish bassist's second album with her Ternion Quartet

Anne Mette Iversen, Invincible Nimbus
The cover of Invincible Nimbus by Anne Mette Iversen

Though she has a longstanding relationship with the Brooklyn Jazz Underground Ensemble and its imprint, Danish bassist Anne Mette Iversen has resided in Berlin since 2012. For Invincible Nimbus, the second album by her Ternion Quartet, Iversen incorporated concepts from fugues, Olivier Messiaen, and theorist Nicolas Slonimsky into an improvisational setting. The results are delivered by a rare blend of trombone (Geoffroy De Masure) and alto saxophone (Silke Eberhard), together with the leader’s bass and Roland Schneider’s drums.

Both the sound and musical interaction of the Ternion Quartet evoke two other famous pianoless quartets, those of Ornette Coleman and Gerry Mulligan. Iversen’s compositions feature rich counterpoint between the horns, with the bassist often adding a third voice to a theme, as in Mulligan’s early recordings. The occasional stop-start melodies are reminiscent of Coleman’s early work. Eberhard and De Masure play with an enthusiasm that often recalls Don Cherry and Coleman. It doesn’t hurt that Iversen lays down some solid double-stop grooves too.

But these passing references are overshadowed by Iversen’s own musical inventions. The horns state the theme of “Polychromatic Pictures” out of tempo, ending phrases with some upper-register wails. Instead of keeping it free, De Masure delivers a rhythmically complex solo over a steady 6/8 groove; Eberhard follows, stretching out while the band reshapes the background. “Dig Your Heels In” is built on an uneven meter, which the horns handle with ease, while “Within a Diapason” shows they can play it relatively straight. The album also includes brief tracks titled “Ghost Word” and numbered one through three. Consisting of themes with no improvisation, they range from 20 seconds to two minutes, serving as thoughtful interludes between the longer tracks and adding to the strength of the whole set.

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Mike Shanley

Mike Shanley has been a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and gladly welcomes any visitors to the city, most likely with a cup of coffee in one hand. Over the years, he has written for several alternative weekly papers and played bass guitar in several indie rock bands. He currently writes for the bi-weekly paper Pittsburgh Current and maintains a blog at shanleyonmusic.blogspot.com.