The Guardian April 16, The Scotsman 9 April, Jazzwise April 2004
Bugge Wesseltoft is one of the movers and shakers of Scandinavian nu-jazz, renowned for his Jazzland label, for his "New Conception of Jazz" (NCOJ) tours and recordings, and his energetic collaborations with Nils Petter Molvaer, Sidsel Endresen and Brazilian singer-songwriter Joyce. Jazzland's roster includes Audun Kleive, Eivind Aarset and Beady Belle as well as his own NCOJ releases. It is alleged that a certain European label boss once dismissed Wesseltoft for being "too vulgar", but that's OK: there's plenty of Europhile jazz out there that's too tasteful at the expense of ideas and feeling. Wesseltoft's best work has the deadpan grooviness of stripped-pine Headhunters: cracking beats with just enough space in the cracks to let the jazz seep through; sneaky pantonal keyboard lines and vamps; loose-limbed horn solos; big ensemble blasts. An overlay of artificial voice samples and digital electronica keeps everything determinedly turn-of-the-century, both in the studio (1996's New Conception of Jazz) - and live - (2001's Moving).
Film Ing (Jazzland, £12.99) has all the Bugge hallmarks: several bits of NCOJ hustle (Skog, Film Ing), a moving number with wordless vocals from Dhafer Youssef (Hope) and dark, rubbery electro (Frik). Hi Is?, featuring saxophonist Vidar Johansen, harks back to earlier albums, and a couple of tracks (the clubby Oh Ye and the more spacious El) feature overdubs by US saxophonist Joshua Redman, who sounds completely at home in the crinkly edges of Wesseltoft's sound-world. Collaborations bring out the best in Wesseltoft - as heard on Joyce's superb Just a Little Bit Crazy (Far Out) from last summer. Film Ing's tracks with friends and guests make the studio wizardry of solo tracks such as Piano and Indie seem a bit unnecessary.
John L Walters for The Guardian
Bugge Wesseltoft is a somewhat unlikely figurehead for the Nordic Nu-Jazz scene, but the bespectacled pianist has been a key figure in the development of the influential jazz-meets-club-beats culture in his native Norway. This latest foray with his New Conceptions of Jazz broadens the palette of his experiments to take in an even more exotic range of influences and collaborators, including saxophonist Joshua Redman and Tunisian oud player/vocalist Dhafer Yousseff among a large cast. It may not sound all that new by now, but there is plenty of variety of mood and colour within the music.
Kenny Mathieson for The Scotsman
The fourth studio album from Norway’s number one electronic jazz pioneer is less chill room, more arty nouveau bar- a shift away from the stylised clubby nature of his previous Moving CD in 2001. Since his debut in 1996, Wesseltoft has become a highly resourceful mix ‘n’ match merchant with the skill and understanding of how best to link up acoustic jazz and beats-based technology. So it’s hard to know why this album doesn’t quite measure up to previous ones.
Whether it’s the lack of Wesseltoft’s distinctive killer hooks, or the fragmented nature of the tracks- reflecting the album title, it mutates trough various mood scenarios like a film score-it’s hard to tell. Of course it’s still a groovy SOB, including the funky house jazz of ‘Oh Ye’ to which Joshua Redman contributes swirling saw lines. As soulfully slinky as Redman’s playing sounds here, his two-track contribution tends to bring the tracks more ‘in’ than ‘out’, whereas past CD contributors like Nils Petter Molvaer, Sidsel Endresen and Håkon Kornstad have put their own more intriguing, peculiar stamp on things.
However, Tunisian singer Dhafer Youssef makes his resounding presence felt on the string ‘Hope’ alongside a haunting Prophet 5 accompaniment from the leader who also thrives playing solo piano/electronics on two spookily delicate Brian Eno-like ambient sound pieces. All in all, a welcome addition to the New Conception, if perhaps more transitional than definitive Wesseltoft.
Selwyn Harris for Jazzwise