Is Skala a jazz record? The guy who made it, Mathias Eick, is certainly a jazz musician. The Norwegian trumpeter, age 31, improvises all over Vespers, the glacially paced new album from the Iro Haarla Quintet. But on Skala, his second (and most scripted) album as a leader, Eick largely sticks to melodies and motifs. His devotion to composition, coupled with drummer Gard Nilssen’s tendency to play in bouncy 4/4, means that, at times, Skala behaves less like modern jazz than it does horn-laden pop. The punchy “Day After” could be mistaken for a backing track awaiting a Donald Fagen vocal. And “Oslo,” a riffy postrock tune, is reminiscent of Eick’s work with Jaga Jazzist-Norway’s answer to Tortoise.
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