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Album Review

The 2010 ECM album Purcor - Songs for Saxophone and Piano features tenor/soprano saxophonist Trygve Seim and pianist Andreas Utnem dueting on various original and traditional compositions. Although this is the first time the two musicians have recorded together, their partnership extends back to the mid-'90s when Utnem, working with Norway's Church City Mission foundation, invited Seim to perform with him at several church services. Choosing from a mix of liturgical compositions for mass and some original pieces, Utnem then played in his own classical- and jazz-based style while Seim improvised around him. The result, as heard on this album, is a kind of hybrid of classical, jazz, and folk styles fits nicely into the softly introspective, and cerebral ECM approach. While this album is not jazz in the strict, swinging, improvisational sense, Seim's fluid approach does flirt with avant-garde contemporary improvisation here, and the overall sense is one of intimate, searching discovery even during the album's most meditative and hymn-like moments. Recorded at an Oslo church in 2008, the album seems to be loosely inspired by Catholic mass with songs like Seim's "Responsorium," Utnem's "Credo," and the duo's bright and rambling "Gloria, Improvisation" directly referencing such Catholic traditions as ceremonial readings of holy scripture and the "Apostle's Creed." Elsewhere, they explore several folk tunes including the Norwegian song "Solrenning" with Utnem playing the harmonium. There is also a reworking of Seim's "Bhavana" from his 2001 ECM debut Different Rivers. These performances, from the opening "Kyrie" onward, are beautifully rendered, softly melodic, and ruminative ones that find Seim and Utnem perfectly attuned to each other.

Purcor, Trygve Seim
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