Marius Neset? Better get used to saying it this is a name you re going to hear a whole lot more. This astonishingly gifted 25 year old saxophonist and composer is releasing his second solo album on Edition Records and it will simply blow you away. Golden Xplosion, also the title of Marius band, features one of the hottest quartets anywhere. Pianist Django Bates barely needs an introduction. The names Delightful Precipice, Human Chain, Loose Tubes and now StoRMChaser, Django s latest project, will suffi ce. His playing here lends Golden Xplosion an orchestral quality and the textures he adds even on acoustic piano are just gorgeous. A member of Loop Collective, bassist Jasper Høiby s own Edition CD Phronesis was one of the jazz hits of 2009. Swedish drummer Anton Eger is another astonishing young musician with great time and explosive power yet capable of great subtlety too. Just listen to his brushwork on Sane. Golden Xplosion also reveals what a fi ne composer Marius Neset is. The tricky time signatures on the title track may suggest Frank Zappa but they re not just for effect but to create a remarkable piece of music. Saxophone Intermezzo II is rich in atmospherics imagine if Ellington had written Prelude To A Kiss in 2008 rather than 1938, it might just sound like this. Perhaps best of all is Angel Of The North. Its near-Baroque opening leads into an almost martial rhythm through pastoral keyboards to build to an anthemic climax.
Still only 25, Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset seems destined for great things. At the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, his professor, renowned British keyboardist and composer Django Bates, soon recognised his talent. Neset became a member of the big band storRMChaser and Bates’ small group Human Chain, to great acclaim.
Bates plays piano and keyboards on Golden Xplosion, Neset’s second album, with the rhythm section from Phronesis – Jasper Høiby on double bass and Anton Eger on drums – completing the line-up. In such distinguished company, Neset shines on both tenor and soprano saxophones, displaying rhythmic flair and the ability to produce inventive solos even at the most testing tempos.
All 11 tracks are Neset compositions; as a composer, he displays the same sense of melody as in his solos. The album opens stunningly with a complex duo between Neset on tenor and Bates on trumpet in which the two interweave and complement each other beautifully. However, when this segues into Golden Xplosion, things change dramatically.
Played by the quartet, with Bates on keyboards and E-flat horn, the title-track begins promisingly but soon degenerates into an exhausting mish-mash of multiple time signatures – shouted by the players, for some reason – and sampled sirens. Altogether, it is over-busy and Neset sounds like he is trying too hard. As his co-producer, Eger should maybe have had a quiet word with him. Sadly, the next track, City of Fire, does little to retrieve the situation and it too makes uneasy listening.
In total contrast, at the heart of the album is a series of tracks on which Neset plays unaccompanied, allowing space for his creativity. On the first, Old Poison (XL), he is credited with "tenor saxophone (no overdubs)" – necessary as he manages to sound like several saxophonists playing together. Saxophone Intermezzo I and II plus Epilogue achieve a pastoral tranquility reminiscent of Neset’s countryman Jan Garbarek.
There is plenty on Golden Xplosion to suggest that Neset is well-equipped to be massive in the future, provided he can build on the strengths of this album and avoid repeating its worst excesses.
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