Morten Haxholm’s “Vestigium”

Morten Haxholm

VESTIGIUM / HAXHOLM: Occam’s Razor. Vestigium*. Central Park West. Leviathan.* Obviate. Deep Sea Explorer.* A World Without End. ALTMAN-LAWRENCE: All or Nothing At All / Jonathan Kreisberg, gtr; Nikolaj Hess, pno; Morten Haxholm, bs; Ari Hoenig, dm; *Frederick Menzies, t-sax / Storyville SVL1014319

Morten Haxholm, a well-known jazz bassist-group leader in Denmark, presents here some very interesting music played with great brio and imagination. There’s a certain Tristano-like vibe to the opener, Occam’s Razor, a coruscating melody set to bitonal harmonies. The guitarist and pianist play in a somewhat understated manner but they really swing well and, thank goodness, there is no trace of a rock influence in Kreisberg’s superb improvisations. There is also a certain continuity to the solos that I liked very much; these are musicians who listen to each other, and thus pick up on the previous soloist’s ideas as a starting place for their own.

Vestigium is a 5/4 piece with displaced beats, which the group plays very well. Tenor saxist Frederick Menzies is added here to the ensemble for color, though he does not solo on this one. Central Park West is a ballad, but the melody line is not particularly memorable. As a bassist, leader Haxholm plays in an understated fashion yet holds the ensemble together beautifully.

I particularly liked Leviathan, a fast-tempoed piece with a sort of double-time shuffle rhythm underneath the principal beat. Once the rhythm straightens out and becomes more regular, Menzies, who returns on this track, takes a fine solo, and in the ensemble passages the band really swings. Obviate is another ballad, but a more interesting piece with a meatier lead line and some moving piano-bass figures in spots that up the tempo. The beat also shifts subtly for Hess’ piano solo.

Deep Sea Explorer begins with an intro in a quirky tempo, which alternates with a straightahead 4. Kreisberg really plays well on this one, as does Menzies on tenor, and drummer Hoenig contributes some excellent breaks. A World Without End is another jazz ballad.

The finale is an imaginative treatment of the old 1939 ballad, All or Nothing at All, with displaced rhythmic accents and a delicate guitar solo by Kreisberg.

In all, a superb album of consistently good group improvisations. I wish some of Haxmolm’s American counterparts would listen to this!

—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley

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