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ClassicsOnline Home » MOLLER, Lars: Kaleidoscope
Born in 1966 tenor saxophone player Lars Møller is a leading exponent of the Scandinavian jazz scene today. His current band with bass player Thomas Ovesen (b. 1965), pianist Jacob Christoffersen (b. 1967) and drummer/tabla-player Ole Theill (b. 1957) has been working regularly and released 3 highly praised CDs since 1994. Lars Møller has also recorded CDs as bandleader with such sidemen as John Abercrombie, Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Jimmy Cobb, Billy Hart, Thomas Clausen and Jesper Lundgaard, two of which have been nominated for the Danish Grammy Award. He lived and performed in New York from 1987 to 1989 and has spent several prolonged periods studying the shenhai with leading artists in New Delhi, India. Currently he co-leads an eighteen piece Big Band "The Orchestra" and composes for various classical ensembles from string quartet to full symphony orchestra.
When Lars first called me about writing the liner notes he also sent me a tape and brief résume of each individual in the band. When I saw the years 1966*1965*1967 it dawned on me, these are young cats. I reflected on what I was doing when I was their age; probably playing exceedingly loud Fusion music, looking for the downbeat, and basically trying to keep my damn guitar in tune (I try to work on these concepts still to this very day.)
All kidding aside, these guys can really play and what is so impressive about them? Besides their individual accomplishments, it is their dedication to a group sound. This really sounds like a band that has been playing and listening together for some time now. Having been a sideman and leader in many bands myself, I know that this is something that takes time, not to mention a large dose of selflessness.
The CD’s opener, Afternoon Whisper, is a real pretty eight-note tune with lyrical solos from both Lars and Jacob.
Wayne Shorter’s Footprints is next with Ole switching to tabla and engaging in an open duet with Thomas, before the theme is stated. The bass line, which is an integral part of the tune, has been altered slightly to give it an off-centre feel. When I first heard this, while driving in my car, I thought that Lars had made a version in a different time-signature, other than the original. Fortunately for me, I didn’t try to figure it out while behind the wheel, or these notes could have been written by Chet Atkins!
Perspective is an interesting melodic floater with a lot of nice minor and minor–maj 7th chords to play on. (These are personal favorites of mine.) Both Lars and Jacob solo reflectively here, which really keeps the mood alive.
I guess Lars had A Change of Plans when he wrote this next one. A dark harmonic sound appears during the head, giving the piece a mysterious mood. Check out the way Jacob’s solo organically grows out of the theme.
Emotions in Disguise is a bright piece, with nice rhythm section writing behind the melody. Lars often writes an integrated part for the rhythm section which gives his songs more of a sense of composition. A burning solo from Lars, spurred on by Ole Theill’s intense drumming, decrescendos into a more lyric turn from Jacob. Nice subtle use of synth pads on this one.
Kaleidoscope is a loose eighth-note floater. After a short theme, Thomas is featured on bass. Having a bass solo first is a great idea, if you have a really good bass player! In this case they have and Thomas takes advantage by playing an effortless solo, through some difficult changes. Jacob’s piano solo is a real model of how to build intensity by starting with sparse ideas and gradually becoming more dense and exciting. Lars* solo is on the other hand, more restrained throughout, but ever so thoughtful.
3rd Line for Shorter takes us into a funkier area than we’ve been up to this point. But funky Shorter has twists and turns that I don’t think an average funk band could deal with. You can feel the Wayne influence throughout and if I’m not mistaken a reference to some earlier "Shorterisms" pop up in Lars’s solo.
The next piece is called Lite. (Does this mean a less fattening tune with fewer calories and not as many notes?) Jacob’s solo has a great bluesy feel which again starts sparsely and builds to a really full sound. Lars solos next and he really eats up the changes as we say in jazz. (But remember, if this tune is really "lite", then Lars can eat all he wants and never have to worry about note gain!) Check out Ole, bashing on the final tag.
Goodbye is the closer. This beautiful ballad is a feature for Thomas’s lyrical bass playing, and also for the MELODY. There are no real solos after the bass which allows the song to be the main event. As jazz musicians we all love to improvise and to try to find new ways to express ourselves on old and new forms, so sometimes it’s nice just to hear a song played without a lot of improvisation, but with clarity and feeling.
As I said before, this is a real band that plays and listens together. It’s been my great pleasure to listen to them and now it’s yours.
John Abercrombie, July, 1998
Link to Lars Moller's website : www.larsmoller.com
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MOLLER, Lars: Kaleidoscope