By Josef Woodard | Published May 2021
Jakob Bro’s evolution from sideman to solo artist with vision continues apace on Uma Elmo, the Danish guitarist’s fifth album on ECM. For this luminous set, recorded in Lugano, Switzerland, Bro works with a unique and simpatico trio—a bass-less unit with noted Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy. As might be expected of such a mix of talent and artistry, the sum effect is abundant with airy and liquid grace, as if evoking the title of the opener, “Reconstructing A Dream.”
The album’s program loosely surveys Bro’s life, musical and otherwise. His simple, affecting originals—like the atonality-salted “Beautiful Day”—serve as flexible frameworks for the trio’s open-spirited treatments and date back to his Berklee days of the ’90s. Moving to the present, he alludes to his current life as father of two small children on “Housework,” the album’s most free-ranging piece.
Uma Elmo’s song selection also pays tribute to bygone jazz greats Bro has accompanied, including a substantial connection with his primary influence, drummer-composer Paul Motian, on “Reconstructing A Dream” and “Slaraffenland.” Another sideman gig of note was with alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, who inadvertently gave Bro the title for his beautiful ballad “Music For A Black Pigeon.”
Something perhaps missing on this moving album is Bro-as-soloist. Instead, the guitarist flexes his considerable talents as composer and texturalist equipped with a discreet palette of effects.
Uma Elmo: Uma Elmo: Reconstructing A Dream; To Stanko; Beautiful Day; Morning Song; Housework; Music For Black Pigeons; Sound Flower; Slaraffenland; Morning Song (Var.) (61:45)
Personnel: Personnel: Jakob Bro, guitar; Arve Henriksen, trumpet, piccolo trumpet; Jorge Rossy, drums.
Ordering Info: Ordering info: ecmrecords.com