2015 WhyPlayJazz (RS019), CD + MP3 Album Download
Mads la Cour (cor), Lars Greve (bcl, cl), Andreas Lang (b), Kasper Tom Christiansen (dr)
All compositions by Mads la Cour Lützen. Recorded on 2/3 February 2015 by Bjørn Gjessing at Mallorca, Copenhagen, Denmark. Mixed by Bjørn Gjessing. Mastered by John Mayfield, Mayfield Mastering, Nashville, USA. Supported by KODA, DJBFA and the Danish Arts Foundation. Cover photo by Taasinge Local Historical Archive. Also check out the Mads la Cour’s Almugi »Duo« and »Large Ensemble« releases.
I’m falling. Let me say it straight up. Mads la Cour’s Almugi »Quartet« is an outstanding record. Outstanding because just when you have found the peace and serenity in »Quartet« it lets go of your hand. Slowly and almost unnoticeably – and then you are overturned. Soft, quiet, wild and odd.
Thrown into the heartfelt »Allmogen«, which through its constantly interrupted drive keeps you stuck. Into the sublime »Baba Ganoush«, starting off in a familiar and well-liked tone – and unnoticeably ends up in complexity while still retaining plenty of nerve. Right into the insanely beautiful »Araber« which through its muffled and fast – and very present – trumpet playing showcases Mads la Cour at his best. Falling into the hovering »Emilie«, which is deeply grounded by the driven bass line, while still reaching for the sky with its insisting trumpet playing.
And into »I Jules« – deep, heartfelt and fragile while still retaining lots of crunchiness. Into the far out »Polka«, arising out of nothing and everything, all at the same time to suddenly arrive in a very insisting manner. Very much so. Into the funky »Sir Dance a Lot«, which through its coolness and bass playing pulls you in. And you stumble into »Long John«, where the horns both entangle and detangle themselves.
All nine tracks will overwhelm you. Each in their own way. Lift you up and pull you into the wondrous, honest and intimate world in which Mads la Cour and his Almugi friend reside. You will time travel into the past as well as into the future but most importantly – Mads, Andreas, Kasper and Lars will make sure you are present. Insanely well-played and yet still brave enough to experiment. Brutally honest. Never have I fallen so gracefully, deeply and curiously.
— Morten Lindberg aka Master Fatman
The music is a an open form of modern Jazz, which ignores genres and conventions and freely floats between melodic passages and free improvisations, presenting the complete palette used by today´s new generation of European Jazz players, who are constantly trying to expand the Jazz idiom.
Sounding at times as if it was recorded in California not Copenhagen, the Almugi Quartet is all about procedural balance, rarely if ever probing atonal highs or dissonant lows. However like a bespoke suit that piques with its discriminating detailing, the moderated and unusual pairing of cornet and clarinet produces an airy synthesis, perfectly suited to La Cour’s compositions.
This is engaging music, each piece with a distinct sense of development, but what really holds the attention is the group sound and interplay. Trumpet and clarinet support and twist around each other constantly without ever sounding contrived, The drums and bass maintain an unflagging energy even when playing fractured and broken rhythms. This is a very fine set from top class players and it makes me want to check our what Mads has been up to with his other ‘ Free Men of the Kingdom’
Mads la Cour has crafted a highly personal musical world that encompasses the serene, reserved Nordic jazz but corresponds with other musical worlds such as close and far folk traditions and contemporary music. The quartet plays as a band that has been playing together for years, creating an intimate, free tonal language within concise segments of collective improvisations. The close, melodic rich interplay of la Cour and Greve is naturally the heart of all pieces, all composed by la Cour. Their searching, warm sound, full with fresh, flowing ideas create an aural tapestry. Both enjoy the economic, driving pulse of Lang and Christiansen.
The gifted quartet expand la Cour's musical vision. The quartet outline beautiful, heartfelt melodies, always in a quiet, reserved manner, as on the sublime "Allmogen," the fragile, chamber "I Jules" or the contemplative "Emilie"; move to a playful, fuky mode on "Sir Dance a Lot" or suggest a gentle dance on "Araber." "Polka" present an experimental, searching side of the quartet at its introduction before the quartet unite for reciting the strong theme.
These four exceptional musicians are gifted with a rare musical gift. Inspiring, beautiful music.