Christian Wallumrød Ensemble A Year from Easter

This release is one where music fully inhabits the space where silence exists. Wallumrød’s compositions drift with such purpose and clarity that their seeming simplicity disguises strength and tension that catches one by surprise. There are no wasted moments and no gestures unfulfilled. The ensemble of Økland (violin, viola d’amore and Hardanger violin), Henriksen (trumpet), Johansen (drums) and Wallumrød (piano, toy piano and harmonium) bring this to light with a precision and sensitivity that is stunning to say the least. Snatches of everything from Klezmer to Debussy to Satie, to microtonal keening and even the Midwest expanse of Holcolmb and Frisell seem to inhabit this decidedly Scandinavian spring forest of sound. There is even a bizarre little jazz interlude that sounds like Paul Bley channelling Duke Ellington, whose left hand is locked into an Anishnabe drum circle groove. Some of the most surprising moments come from Henriksen’s quietly breathing trumpet, which manages to sound like a flute at times and Johansen’s drumming, which clatters and tumbles along with barely a groove in sight. Yet it all fits seamlessly within the stately dances of Wallumrød’s pieces. This album is for everybody, but especially for the Godspeed and Akron/Family fans who want someplace strange and wonderful to go. (ECM)