Monday, October 24, 2011

Anne Mette Iversen: Milo Songs

Anne Mette Iversen (bass)
Milo Songs (Brooklyn Jazz Underground; 2011)
Otis Brown III (drums)
John Ellis (sax)
Danny Grissett (piano)
(photo: Courtney Winston)

With a background in classical you would expect the compositions of the Danish born bassist turned Brooklynite, Anne Mette Iversen, to be more subdued and wrapped in more chamber tones. Well, you do get that but you also get a whole lot more to study. With skill and theories that personal and complex, Iversen is slowly rising above that "best-kept secret" theme. She will be one of the stars of the new generation of composers over the next decade.

With three stellar albums already under her belt and a quartet that has remained intact for well over five years, Iversen has a certain vocabulary and mediation with this group that is unique among even the longest running quartets/ensembles. This closeness allows the musicians to move freely within Iverson's compositions. And Iversen has grown as a composer as well as a bassist. Not to mention the founder of the quickly rising and important label Brooklyn Jazz Underground.

With her latest album, Milo Songs, Iversen shows a deeper understanding of the human conscience as well as uncanny way of crafting tunes from a child's eye (meaning her own). Milo Songs was born out of a number of musical ideas brought out through her children. The music moves and grows like one's life. There are uptempo movements and exquisite somber moments all with calculated effectiveness.

Milo Songs opens gently with "The Terrace," a piece that slowly builds on the dexterity of Grissett and Ellis. Iversen settles in the background adding nice tonality and steady space to the rolling patterns her bandmates have created with her composition. It's a lovely piece that is playful and engrossing.

Iversen has a style that reminds me of both the calm pace of Jimmy Garrison and jubilant nature of Paul Chambers. This is on display throughout Milo Songs but on tracks like "The Storm" and "Milo's Brother" you get a sense of both. "The Storm" unfolds rotating conversation between Ellis and Grissett before Brown and Iversen join in on the build up. The piece soon takes off and each member makes a creative impact on the piece. It's weirdly soft but fierce at the same time. "Milo's Brother" employs a softer tone that Chambers could effortlessly switch on and off. This is a caring piece that both holds the attention of its audience but give you moments to think about the session as a whole and the point at Milo is at (or even yourself) in relation to life and family.

"Cortot's Wheel" ends Milo's journey on a sweet but touching note. A number of passages on "Cortot's Wheel" allows the group to stretch and speak in a tone that connects to the listener more personally than most other compositions you might hear all year.

Anne Mette Iversen is no longer and an up and coming bassist/composer, she is part of the next standard in jazz. And everyone needs to know about her. Her ability to combine modern themes and classic structures into something that reaches on a deeply personally level with each record is rare among composers in recent years. Milo Songs is a definite must listen for everyone.

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