Monday, March 17, 2014

Arni Karlsson: Mold

Arni Karlsson (piano)
Mold (Mold Music; 2014)
Scott McLemore (drums)
Porgrimur Jonsson (bass)

You know, I sometime wonder if artists like Arni Karlsson, Sunna Gunnluags and even American Danny Fox, were on larger labels like ACT or ECM would they receive more acclaim and listenership. I do feel the answer is a resounding yes.

But then again, they could also get also lost is in mountain of similar projects from those labels. So I guess it a good thing that we get to discover these artists on our own and enjoy their continued development. And that is exactly what we see with Arni Karlsson's long awaited third album, Mold.

A bright and richly toned session that marks serious growth in the artists cannon. Opening with emotionally introspective piece "Smell Of Hay," Karlsson shows steady and brave compositional skills that reflect his classical training. But the inclusion of McLemore and Jonsson bring a different level of cohesion to this session immediately with this opening track. It's a fuller and more enveloping sound.

On "Saltstreaks," Karlsson opens the lyrical conversion to both his fellow members for some warmth solo pieces as well as nicely balanced exchanges one on one throughout the piece. "Growing" is a late night midtempo number where Karlsson's playing reminds me of McCoy Tyner. It's bold but with a lot of playfulness. The trios movement as well as on the title track show great depth and emotion. "Mold," while sounding cold and distant, is really more a painting of one's own longing for something more and how to create it.

Mold is a terrific and momentous leap for Arni Karlsson as a composer, leader and performer. And while he and a few others remain independent, their lyrical vision and growth continues to spread. And that's always more important than being on the popular label. Here's to spreading the word. Mold is one of JazzWrap's album of the year for sure. Highly Recommended!

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