Exlibris John Sund : The Open Road -a travelogue in four parts-(DK/GH/N/IND,2011)****
This new album by John Sund gives the impression of the journey of a few years work and with this there have been some changes of evolutions. The band starts very much in a warm outside milieu of some African country, playing close to the easy and warm atmosphere and very close to that African sound that breezes from it. But there’s a Jazz Fusion band involved which shows its abilities upon returning. The second half is going closer towards that fusion style, after having been infused with life experiences. Then it shows the Indian musicians participation and influence with a few moods hanging slower there and with one funky groove to conclude with.
This was what I experienced before having looked at the titles and concept idea. There really was a distinction present in four parts, an African, a European, a Balkan Islands and an Indian part, and a musical story of influences going from one dominant area to the next without predestined results.
The African part is driven by guitars, lots of percussion and real African participants singing and some incorporated environmental sounds. “Oasis” is led by kora, with additional percussion and acoustic guitar. On the last part the main acoustic guitar piece and group singing returns, the full group adds body. On this first part we had John Sund (on “trash”guitar, for the main lead theme, electric guitar, bass, keyboards, drum programming, saples of natural sounds), Ayi Solomon (percussion, vocals, narrative voice), Dawda Jobareth (kora), Akinyi Nyawade (vocals), Moussa Diallo (bass) and Nano Osibio (bass) participating.
On the chamber-like “A Northern Song” we hear a very nice jazz skatting and improvised singing with sax harmonies (all by the Nordic Sissel Vera Pettersen) and acoustic guitars and some additional subtle arrangements with John Sund on electric and 12-string guitars, pads and percussion programming, John Ehde on cello, Morton Lundsby on contrabass and Andreas Markus on contrabass. It also has a small separate section with arpeggio-ing electric guitar outro with textures.
The next section starts with a chamber-music like intro. It turns quickly into a Zappaesque Rock/ In Opposition-like folk-chamber composition with very fast accordion, brass arrangements and some electric guitar improvisations. It grooves and increases with a wild but very controlled and tempering energy during the composition with improvisational energy.
This section has John Sund on electric guitar, darbuka and drumming, Lelo Nika on accordion, Andrzej Krejniuk on electric bass, Zolan Csorsz on drums, Rasmer Kroyer on clarinet and bass clarinet, Kasper Wagner on alto sax and Hans Nybo on tenor and barition sax.
The last section, “Sandy’s Journey” has several atmospheric parts, which totally loses itself in time, with use of environmental recordings and absorbing energies of instrumentation in the background. It works through these spheres towards a jew’s harp swing with Indian rhythmic vocals and rather funky accompaniment, which after a few dreamier deeper slumber moments comes to return with this energy and groove. Here we have John Sund on acoustic guitars, bass, pads and drumloop programming, keyboards, “real sounds” and natural sound effects, Sandipan “Sandy” Chatterje on jew’s harp, tabla, bansuri, narrative voice and vocals, Palden Sherpa on lead vocals, Simon Andersen on slide guitar, Andrzej Krejniuk on electric bass and Zoltan Csorsz on drums.
After 15 years of a full band cooperation with Special Venture and Acoustic Sense, Danish jazz/fusion guitarist John Sund preferred to perform and record as a duo with his long time band mate Ghanaian percussionist Ayi Solomon. Most tracks are based upon improvisations with most often a steady repetitiveness, at times a bit predictable and with rather straight forward, grounding rhythms or themes, with the freedom of acoustic improvisations on top (acoustic guitars and kora on two tracks, by Gambian player Basiru Suso). Percussion is mostly clay pot but on one track Ole Theill accompanied on tabla. On “Mesmerised” a wordless vocal enthusiasm is overdubbed.
The up tempo “Aju Tek” has a rather rocky riff loop on acoustic guitar and some repeated rhythms. On top of that we can hear a professional, rather tricky and top fast flamenco-like Spanish guitar, an energetic track. On the rather happy up tempo “Jay Rishi Kesh” we can hear a strange instrument from Bangladesh with a “poing” string which makes a rhythmic pulse of a drone, another grounding and starting point for a driven improvisation. “Shimbala” before that, with rather straight rhythms used funky ideas for the guitars. Very different is “Skydiver” which used a theme of spacey ambient keyboard drones done with this computer program to have some improvisation on guitar on top of it. Last track is the most melodious piece. A CD in which you can feel the enjoyment of improvisation.
Cope Records John Sund & Acoustic Sense : New Gems (DK,2003)****
Acoustic guitar master John Sund leads this all-acoustic Fusion group with some members contributing in various ways with their own backgrounds. Ghanian Ayi Solomon for instance, plays on all kind of handpercussion instruments like udu, shells, berimbau, djembe. He follows mostly the jazz-line, but he gives it extra exotic touches inspired from different origins. One track, “Pulse Chant” (Bushman’s Cry) is a co-composition with African roots, with an acoustic guitar and footstep arrangement by John Sund. The Serbian accordion player Lelo Nika, has a background in Gypsy music, but, like Ayi Solomon succeeds to focus this completely into jazz fusion territories. He adds melodic interwoven worlds into the compositions. Swedish cellist John Ehde, has a classical background but is able to improvise perfectly and smoothly along. One seagull-like cello improvisation seems to be derived from an idea from another John Sund composition. Thommy Anderson plays acoustic bass on 5 of the 12 tracks, while Yadam Gonzalezas a guest player plays acoustic bass on the first track.
Overall the compositions are melodically rich. They’re not just lead overall by the acoustic guitar, because all instruments share their part in building up the composition. Here and there a more open crafty evolution, but mostly it is the compositional forces coming from one or more instruments which lead logically into compositions. A fine jazzfusion release with an all-world music open attitude.
Gateway Music Acoustic Sense : Absorption (DK,2011)****'
I had to listen a couple of times to get more grip on this album, to be able to describe what happens. Don’t get me wrong : it is a rather accessible jazz-fusion release. The band hangs together well. The compositions are mostly led in a perfect pairing lead of cello and acoustic guitar. The mode gives an energy of improvisation, it is however very composed and well structured complex music, with leads of jazz-guitar, often rather emotionally rich cello parts, duets of cello and guitar with well participating harmonies and for additional melodic and sonic richness. The rhythms can be complex and are well filled in with detail. Just a few times the rhythms take over some improvisation, quickly taken over with structural strength by the guitar and cello and bass. The bass, like often is the case, stands in between the melodic and rhythmic parts, most often adding more, subtle rhythmical arrangements. A few more rhythmical tracks have some rockier, almost funky parts too. Acoustic Sense succeeds to create their own skilful jazz-fusion style. Some of the guitar playing by John Sund might have a slight influence from Indian music. Very good and highly professional !!