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CD: Frode Berg 'Dig It!', Jazzwise

Jazzwise July 2004

02/07/2004 :: July 2004

Frode Berg
Dig It!

(Three out of five stars)

Interesting musicians, these. They’re Norwegian, except for Powell, the eloquent Brit, now an Oslo resident, who’s had a couple of albums out recently as a leader. Berg is a respected sessioneer in all sorts of settings, from TV shows to avant garde and classical. He’s technically very proficient and is obviously a Pastorius fan. Wettre is an exciting, boisterous tenor player, not dissimilar in style to one of his patrons, the underrated George Garzone. Powell plays with loads of confidence and his two originals – the opening modal ‘41b’ and the Shorter-esque ‘Hocum’ – inspire good solos. Most of Berg’s tunes have a strong Monkish harmonic and rhythmic base, crossed with a Weather Report-type fusion. The title track, where the tempo goes into double-time, is remarkably ‘free’ in its solo sections, with young drummer Bye whipping up a storm. Powell is really outside on this one. He’s much more satisfying on the earthy blues, ‘I’m Gone’, which again has excellent tenor. There’s also a highly effective 7/8 treatment of ‘Giant Steps’. The fleet-fingered Berg splits his playing between acoustic and 6-string electric and ends the CD with a heartfelt, if somewhat lugubrious, arco solo for his son. Nice to know that Scandinavians can still swing!

Tony Hall for Jazzwise

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