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Two Albums by Bassist Anne Mette Iversen

Review of "Round Trip" and "Ternion Quartet" albums led by bassist

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Cover of Anne Mette Iversen album "Ternion Quartet"
Anne Mette Iversen album “Ternion Quartet”

Ternion Quartet (BJU)

Round Trip (BJU)

Composer-bassist Anne Mette Iversen has been the best reason to pay attention to the Brooklyn Jazz Underground collective the past few years, and these simultaneous releases with two completely separate bands signal another growth spurt in her development and profile.

Iversen formed the Ternion Quartet more than two years ago in Berlin, where she now resides. It is more playful and less controlled than any of her previous ensembles, reveling in the hopscotch jousts and tonal contrasts between alto saxophonist Silke Eberhard and Geoffroy De Masure on tenor and bass trombones. The spongy fills from drummer Roland Schneider and Iversen’s steady, stentorian basslines provide the right amount of caulk and spacing. The song titles offer another clue into Iversen’s wry, carefree mindset with this group. Three snippets—“My Revised Head,” “Their Revised Head” and “Your Revised Head”—are dotted among the nine other tracks, and vocabulary-rich titles such as “Ataraxia on My Mind” and “A Cygnet’s Eunoia” are simply highfalutin ways of saying, “I feel good!” That’s also expressed in the plunger mutes and nuanced march-time beats that lend a New Orleans flair to “Debacled Debate,” and in how “Escapade #7” does indeed feel like a musical caper, with its lowing trombone drone, shuffling drums and walking bass.

Cover of Anne Mette Iversen album "Round Trip"
Anne Mette Iversen album “Round Trip”

Round Trip is even better, in large part because of pianist Danny Grissett. It isn’t just having a harmony instrument in the rhythm section (although that is the only significant difference in the makeup of the two bands); Grissett is both a steadying presence and a subtle force. He provides welcome interludes that are like glancing blows between the conversing horns of tenor saxophonist John Ellis and trombonist Peter Dahlgren on “Round Trip.” He delivers the opening vamp that becomes the motif for “Lines & Circles.” His lengthy solo in the middle of “The Ballad That Would Not Be” is a contender for the highlight of the entire disc.

Another advantage Round Trip enjoys is the depth and variety of Iverson’s compositions. Each of the five members (drummer Otis Brown III completes the lineup) is spotlighted solo and in tandems that continually shift. Meanwhile, the background layers vary in their pith and weave, making the disc a durable listening pleasure for new and expanded discoveries. In the liner notes, Iversen talks about a “round trip” being a return home by a different route, and the music reflects that blend of intimacy and adventure. All but Dahlgren have been together more than a dozen years now, and one could say the band members are really hitting their stride. The best part is that it’s a different stride on almost every track.

Originally Published