Album Remarks & Appraisals:
The Guardian (UK)
Young Scandinavian jazzers continue to surprise and delight. Extravagantly gifted 27-year-old Marius Neset is a case in point. A fluent tenor saxophonist, he's also a composer able to shape-shift between classicism and funky improvisation. This follow-on from 2011's feted Golden Xplosion ranges freely across styles, using a six-piece brass section, vibes and accordion. The title track begins as playful and quirky as blackbird song. Spring Dance is a lyrical duet with Neset's sister on flute. Neset's melodic bop infuses Fields of Clubs, while Math of Mars is dreamy and Fanfare reminiscent of Aaron Copeland. Outstanding.
The Guardian (UK)
Golden XPlosion - for which he was hailed as a startling new fusion of Jan Garbarek and the late Michael Brecker - , the young Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset has extended his talents. Birds, which features accordion, five brass and his teenage sister Ingrid on flutes, is the most fully composed of Neset's ventures so far: Norwegian folk music, classical wind-band methods and the leftfield ingenuity of his early mentor, Django Bates, influence the ensemble sound, and several of the longer pieces develop in short movements, each with their own motifs. Spring Dance is a duet for tenor sax and flute, with Ingrid Neset's glossy, rounded sound matched by her nimble alertness. Graceful, slow folk themes like The Place of Welcome and Sacred Universe showcase bassist Jasper H°iby and pianist Ivo Neame (creative UK trio Phronesis is the rhythm section), and the orchestral sweep of Math on Mars testifies to the leader's sophisticated handling of a larger group. Each new step by Neset seems to take him forward by a big distance.
The Jazz Mann
The lyrical mood is sustained on "Introduction To Sacred Universe" with Neame's delicate and thoughtful piano leading the way. "Sacred Universe" itself seems to develop in movements and again features Neset's soprano sax alongside Hoiby's double bass before gradually taking on a wide screen magnificence seemingly climaxed by a soaring Neset tenor solo. Thoroughly beautiful coda, proof that much of Neset's writing is almost orchestral in its ambition. It's a grandly ambitious work that succeeds superbly thanks to both the brilliance of the writing and arranging but also the phenomenal playing of a truly outstanding ensemble. Neset's own playing, particularly on tenor, is a constant tour de force, he's got the chops, he's got the ideas and he's even got the looks. This is an album that should boost his star credentials internationally and he should find himself playing to full houses on an upcoming UK tour that is quickly followed by a string of appearances around Europe.
Neset and his band are easily the equal of a lot of American players treading similar paths, and it'll be interesting to see where he goes next. He sounds fully formed as a player already. Anyway, this is an engrossing, beautifully produced album from a player and composer to watch.
Personnel: Marius Neset (soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone); Ivo Neame (piano); Jim Hart (vibraphone); Anton Eger (drums).
Audio Mixer: August Wanngren.
Recording information: The Village Recording (04/2012).
Photographers: Linea Hoiby; Roar Vestad.