Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lars Fiil Kvartet: Reconsideration

Lars Fiil Kvartet

Lars Fiil (piano)
Jens Mikkel Madsen (bass)
Lis Kruse (sax)
Andreas Skamby (drums)

So I've been eagerly awaiting the album that would knock my ears off at the beginning of 2011. And I think I've found it. Danish quartet, Lars Fiil Kvartet led by pianist Lars Fiil, saxophonist Lis Kruse, bassist Jens Mikkel Madsen and drummer Andreas Skamby. Their debut album Reconsideration, is a sublime piece of work.

In the same manner which Dave Stapleton's Between The Lines was both British jazz and beyond British--Lars Fiil has created a document filled with original material that is clearly post modern and European. But Reconsideration aims much higher and beyond many of it's Scandinavian counterparts.

Reconsideration is thoughtful, respectful of its influences (so much so, it's sometimes it hard to find) and improvising when necessary. "Reconsideration" is a beautiful opening number that is reminiscent of the quieter moments of the great Esbjorn Svensson and Tord Gustofsson pieces but things really set fire on the next track. "The Opener" moves from forceful hard bop to groove-laden melodic harmonics without missing a beat. Fiil's playing is truly impressive. I don't know if McCoy Tyner was an influence but for me there are shades--more so in the calmer moments on Reconsideration.

The performances from the rest of the quartet should not be understated. This is demonstrated excellently on "After..." in which Kruse, Skamby and Madsen share some emotional passages before Fiil comes in to round out the sound. The band then jump headlong with steam into some improvised but well structured movements before Kruse and Fiil bringing everything to gentle conclusion.

The full stretch moment is "Xenophobiaphobia", a jumpin' piece that I think Monk would be proud of. Fiil's playing is rich, spirited and challenge when it needs to be. Lars Fiil has a voice and character that far surpasses this debut.

Reconsideration is impressive from start to finish. An album filled with all original material played at a high level and well crafted and delivered by each individual member. Lars Fiil has delivered the first great record of 2011 and I believe we will be talking about this album again as part of our Best Albums Of 2011 in twelve months. Reconsideration is Highly Recommended.

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