Atomic - Retrograde (Jazzland, 2008)
Atomic is a Scandinavian band specializing in fine modern jazz, mixing spacey open improvisation with tight pithy tunes. Using free improvisation, hard bop and everything in between, and consisting of Magnus Broo on trumpet, Fredrik Ljungkvist on saxophones, Havard Wiik on piano, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, Atomic has the whole of post-war jazz at their fingertips. Surprisingly, this is their third three-disc set in the last few years, and the band still has a lot of ideas and territory to explore. The first two CDs are studio recordings of the band, while the third was recorded live in Seattle. "Painbody" was my favorite track of the uptempo pieces, it is a flat out burner, but the band is always in control and playing as a group rather than looking for personal glory. At a little over five minutes, it is a breathless example of the power of this group. Two takes of "Invisible Cities" show the band's moodier and introspective side, with slow building long tones, and subtle percussion. I think that it is getting to the point where you can make the case that the most exciting and forward thinking jazz is coming out of Northern Europe at the moment. Jazz is truly a worldwide language now, and bands like Atomic are leading the charge, making wonderful and exciting music.
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