Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ole Mathisen Periodic Table JazzHeads 2010

With Periodic Table, Ole Mathisen makes an impressive statement as perhaps the finest tenor player flying just beneath the radar of fans and critics alike.
Brent Black /
Norway is a virtual goldmine of improvisational talent with Ole Mathisen perhaps the most overlooked despite being a highly regarded fixture on the scene in New York for some time. Periodic Table is a release from 2010 and further proof being a critic is not about being critical nor is it strictly about what have you done for me lately. Joined by another formidable fixture in drummer Tony Moreno, Moreno anchors an all star rhythm section of Francois Moutin on bass and Kenny Wessel who weaves his six string soliloquies in an out of a variety of compositions with solid comp work and clean angular lines on his solos.

The somewhat conceptualized notion of basing compositions on the Periodic Table of elements mercifully requires no active knowledge of chemistry or a passing grade, lucky for me as my then girlfriend did all the leg work. Instead we have compositions as varied and in some cases as unstable as some of the elements that one would find listed. Here we find unstable as good, very good. Imaginative tone rows with deconstructed rhythmic nuances for an organic and incredibly inspired performance of work that while walking the modern free jazz tightrope manages to maintain an air of accessibility seldom heard.

Ole Mathisen is carving out his own incredibly unique vision by taking the harmonic road less traveled for an approach that is vibrant, fresh and most importantly expansive both in presentation and composition. Pushing sonic buttons and boundaries positions Mathisen as an artist to watch closely in the coming years with the best advice being to check out all of his subsequent work so that his harmonic development can be charted on your own.

Tracks: Argon; Boron; Bismuth; Sodium; Chlorine; Hydrogen/Mercury; Fluorine; Uranium; Radon.
Personnel: Ole Mathisen: Tenor Saxophone; Kenny Wessel: Guitar; Francois Moutin: Bass; Tony Moreno: Drums.