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Album Review

Norwegian jazz in general has long grown out of whatever perceptions or stereotypes held back wider acceptance of it in earlier years, and the New York-based Scorch Trio continues to prove this on Brolt, the group's third album, swiftly recorded in a two-day session in Oslo following the conclusion of a European tour. Raoul Björkenheim's guitar and Paal Nilssen-Love's drumming take slight precedence over Ingebrigt Håker Flaten's bass work and electronics, but this is no slight against the latter performer; his careful anchoring of the bottom end is as fluid as one could want and provides the pivot for Nilssen-Love's explosive fills and Björkenheim's exultant feedback. The guitarist's love for Eric Dolphy's finest work is particularly audible; something about the way he goes all over the place and then hits one high mark after another on the opening "Olstra" sounds like sheer joy in release, distortion not as anger but as pure energy and sudden grace. When the band locks into their version of a big metal stomp, the sense of the live recording is almost palpable; Nilssen-Love's drums hit but don't wallop, calling to mind Bill Ward as much as anyone else, while the looser jams on a song like "Hys" or "Gaba," the latter of which is a classic "start out calm and then get louder and more frenetic" move in action, also have a tactile quality. Their quieter performances, like the tense as heck "Basjen," Björkenheim's controlled tones arcing in and out of the near silence, and the spacious opening to "Bluring," cymbal hits and crackling guitar scrapes rising out of shadow, are no less compelling. [It should be noted that the vinyl version of Brolt contains four more songs than the CD, for those who favor their turntables still in an iPod world.]

Top Albums and Songs by Scorch Trio

Brolt!, Scorch Trio
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