Label/Year: Brooklyn Jazz Underground, 2017
Lineup - Jorn Swart: piano; Benjamin von Gutzeit: viola; Lucas Pino: bass clarinet
New York-based pianist Jorn Swart configures an uncommon piano-viola-clarinet trio format, to interpret the ten tracks he composed for his sophomore outing, Malnoia.
Revealing a strong passion for classical music, he assumes influences from Bartok, Ravel, and Hindemith, which he maturely mingles with jazz vocabulary and improvisation. Joining him in this adventure are violist Benjamin von Gutzeit and bass clarinetist Lucas Pino, whose habitual tenor saxophone was left aside for this particular project.
Beautiful and sad, dreamy and enchanting, touching and heartfelt… “Elefante Triste” is all that and much more. Blossoming with the lyrical power of the trio, the tune relies on Swart’s harmonic textures that will serve as a stamping ground for Von Gutzeit and Pino’s soaring melodiousness.
If the opening piece feels contemporary, “Walsje” is a traditional waltz molded with robust classical intonations, even if the soloists squeeze some jazz sentences on top of the cadenced one-two-three rhythm flow.
The gloomy “Feldmania” intensifies sadness and takes us to dark, wintry landscapes.
Christmas is remembered with disenchantment on “Odd Christmas Song” where mournful and eerie vibes can be found deeply rooted in its core. “Nocturne” follows a similar melancholy, alerting our senses for the collective interplay, which includes meditative piano cuddles, long clarinet vibratos, and nostalgic viola wails.
Pure chamber classicism is delivered on “Hindemith”, a contrapuntal tune impregnated of shifting rhythms and melodic accentuations. By turns, it embraces vivacious and reflective modes, becoming buoyantly throbbing as it moves forward.
Truly impressive is “Students of the Macabre”, an inviting dance elaborated with groovy ostinatos and clever improvisations by the bandleader, who exhibits resolute spontaneity, and Pino, who delivers the best solo of the record.
“Meditation in C” falls in the same category of the tune described above, assuming a free-flowing nature and suggesting movement, while “The Return of the Snow Bunnies”, emerging like a pop ballad, aims at the heart and stirs up feelings. Its heavenly composure will certainly touch the most sensitive listeners.
The jazz genre benefits with diversity and Jorn Swart presents us alternative sounds drawn from bold approaches. Malnoia consolidates his creative voice, at the same time that sets the bar high for his next move.
To better relish this album, just give it time, enjoying several listenings.
01 – Elefante Triste ► 07 – Students of the Macabre ► 08 – The Return of the Snow Bunnies