By Josef Woodard | Published January 2017
Though still young and evolving, Norwegian-born, Copenhagen-based saxophonist Marius Neset, 31, has followed a steep curve of musical maturity, outdoing himself with his fourth solo album for ACT.
With Snowmelt, Neset fully engages in the challenging world where a jazz quartet meets orchestra (in this case, the formidable London Sinfonietta) on musical terrain carefully balanced between through-composed scores and integrated improvisational journeys.
Neset’s bold quartet—pianist Ivo Neame, bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Anton Eger—provides a sturdy but ever-flexible “jazz band” foundation, counterbalancing the ample orchestral elements in the overall sonic palette. Neset’s soaring, singing tenor saxophone serves as the melodic protagonist and conceptual epicenter, and he brings to the compositional table a variety of in uences, including Mahler, Alban Berg and Stravinsky, without slipping into Third Stream dilution.
The singular statement on the album is the title track, a 15-minute suite originally written for the Oslo Sinfonietta and premiered in 2013. Rapid, jabbing and jagged-edged rhythms contrast with atmospheric, wintry passages, with Neset’s soprano saxophone sounding at once heroic, optimistic and vulnerable.
In Snowmelt, Neset has created a dramatically varied and effectively cross-genre journey of an album, to majestic ends.
Snowmelt: Prologue; Arches Of Nature: Sirens, Acrobatics, Circles, Caves, Paradise, Rainbows, Pyramiden; The Storm Is Over; Introduction To Snowmelt; Snowmelt. (52:00)
Personnel: Marius Neset, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ivo Neame, piano; Petter Eldh, bass; Anton Eger, drums; London Sinfonietta, conducted by Geoffrey Paterson.