Mathias Eick - Ravensburg

Label: ECM, 2018

Personnel – Mathias Eick: trumpet; Hakon Aase: violin; Andreas Ulvo: piano; Audun Erlien: electric bass; Thorstein Lofthus: drums; Helge Andreas Norbakken: drums, percussion.


Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick owns a very characteristic sound that has been applauded not only in his personal projects but also in works of other respected authors such as Jacob Young, Iro Haarla, and Manu Katché. From 1998 to 2014, he was a legitimate member of the peculiar big band Jaga Jazzist, artisans of an adventurous electronic jazz.

On Ravensburg, his fourth release on the ECM label, Eick delves into his original compositions with the habitual discipline and composure he has developed throughout the years. The eight tunes were shaped with the grandiose support of a musical crew that includes violinist Hakon Aase, pianist Andreas Ulvo, electric bassist Audun Erlien, and a pair of competent rhythm stylists such as Thorstein Lofthus and Helge Andreas Norbakken, who play together for the very first time.

The program begins with “Family”, a sedate and monochromatic song whose harmonic alignment brings more pensiveness than enthusiasm. Completely antagonistic in the mood, “Children” adds a lot more elements to an uplifted rhythmic dance that, still unaggressive and picturesque, brings in a sort of jazz-house feel. The bandleader uses his clear voice alongside the violin before embarking on unisons with the trumpet. He follows exactly the same procedures on “August” and “Parents”, two pieces that stick to a similar line of action. The former, a soothing ballad, features Ulvo’s acute statements and the drummers’ gorgeous effects with snare drags and cymbal slashes; the latter shows us the band generating a simple backbone with the drummers deserving all our attention for the valuable nuances induced in the pulse. If there’s any predictability in Eick’s musical moves, it's definitely not extended to the inventive rhythmic patterns.
One of the most interesting tracks is “Friends”, where we can spot calm, beautiful, and easy melodies delivered in unison within passages that flow naturally.  Some of those passages thrive with curious samba-like pulsations and bass lines that jump from scattered groovy plucks to asymmetric heart poundings. It stands between the undisturbed and the excitable, like the tortuous water of a river when meeting the immense tranquility of the sea.
Girlfriend” has a natural splendor, feeling like a crisp, ethereal acid jazz tune with smooth funk allusions and world percussion in the mix. The trance-like groove hails from bass and piano, whose work on the lower register is flawlessly coordinated, while Aase’s violin sounds in perspective with the flow.

Settling predominantly over the 4/4 time signature and avoiding knotty exchanges, Mathias Eick highlights the power of the collective instead of any individual proclamation. With dynamics that are as natural as they are low-key, Ravensburg brings his unique perspective and idiosyncratic personality into another engaging album.

        Grade  A-

        Grade A-

Favorite Tracks: 
03 - Friends ► 04 - August ► 06 – Girlfriend