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Anne Mette Iversen Quartet +1: Racing a Butterfly (Brooklyn Jazz Underground)

A review of the bassist-led quintet's album

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Anne Mette Iversen Quartet +1, Racing a Butterfly
The cover of Racing a Butterfly by the Anne Mette Iversen Quartet +1

One summer morning when Anne Mette Iversen was out for a morning jog, she wound up in a race with a butterfly that was alternately flying ahead of her, falling behind, and spinning circles along her path. This playful interaction with nature inspired the bassist’s newest album with her Quartet + 1. Five of the album’s nine tracks have the word “butterfly” in the title and many have an air of flight in the music. If the concept seems a bit precious, the music is anything but.

Iversen’s group has the same horn lineup as Dave Holland’s ’00s quintet—trombone (Peter Dahlgren) and tenor saxophone (John Ellis, who also plays soprano on two tracks). Racing a Butterfly’s title track recalls the other bassist/bandleader due to the quintet’s skill at making odd time signatures sound as natural as a steady four. Iversen, the skilled composer, casts Ellis’ lines as the flighty insect bobbing in counterpoint to Dahlgren’s grounded trombone, who sounds perfectly at home as the rhythm section weaves beneath him.

Drummer Otis Brown III keeps the spark in the music even in the calmer moments. He engages with pianist Danny Grissett in “Triangular Waves” and the groovy “Cluster,” where they trade between the pianist’s ostinatos and some aggressive drum fills. Iversen opens “Parallel Flying Part 1” with a brief, lyrical solo but spends most of the time laying musical foundations. She does, however, join the horns in the theme of “Cluster,” continuing to show her knack for creating rich voicings that expand the sound of the group.  Less than a year after a release with her adventurous Ternion Quartet, Iversen’s Quartet + 1 proves she’s just as fluent in a more straight-ahead situation.

Preview, buy or download Racing a Butterfly on Amazon!


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