CD: Jacob Young 'Evening Falls', Guardian

The Guardian 2 April 2004

27/04/2004 ::  

Jacob Young, Evening Falls
3 stars (ECM)

A lyrical, softly swaying debut from a thirtysomething Norwegian acoustic and electric guitarist who, despite his youth, has worked with some of the luminaries of the Scandinavian scene, including Nils Petter Molvaer and Trygve Seim. ECM house-drummer Jon Christensen lends his alert restraint to the set, and the gifted Mats Eilertsen (a member of Iain Ballamy's Food) alternately pushes and cushions the music at every turn on bass.

Jacob Young was a student of Jim Hall and John Abercrombie, and the connections are apparent in his subtle dynamics and rounded tone. You might think, judging by Young's cool, oblique antecedents and ECM's history, that this is destined to be an ambient, slow-moving, idiomatically ambiguous affair. But although it's largely pensive, it has its surprisingly jazzy and nimble moments, with incisive solos from saxophonist and clarinettist Vidar Johansen, and some stunning contributions from trumpeter Mathias Eick. Eick is usually heard playing more fusion-oriented music with the jazz/funk ensemble Jaga Jazzist, but he could hardly be more thoughtful and provocative here - his lines making bold brushstrokes across the usual intervals, his tone delicate but firm.

Young's themes favour rather melancholy accumulations of long, slow sounds overlaid on each other. At times, though, he veers into almost Carla Bley-like ethereal marches. Johansen comes somewhere between Jan Garbarek and Michael Brecker on the thrillingly bleary ensemble tussle of Presence of Descant, and Eilertson's bass sounds as if it's standing next to you on the elegiac opening of The Promise, a tune as haunting as a good Pat Metheny ballad.

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