Wednesday 25 January 2023

'Wide Open' by Little North

'Wide Open' is the brand new album from Danish trio Little North whose sublime new release also marks April Records' formal introduction to the new year.

Since the trio's fruitful collaboration with the pioneering April Records, Little North have steadily released full-length projects at an incredible rate with 'Wide Open' marking their fourth album since the band's self-titled project in 2020, swiftly followed by 'Finding Seagulls' in 2021 and 'Familiar Places' in 2022.

It's an inspiring work ethic but then again, the trio would perhaps take issue at the notion of "work" being applied to their music.  As strong advocates for improvisation forming a significant basis for their compositions, it's a concept that can often seem quite at odds with the end-result - 'Wide Open', for example, is a collection of eleven tracks that convey a meticulous level of proficiency providing the natural assumption that a painstaking amount of planning and rehearsal is applied to achieve the high levels of perfection that are evident when we press play.  The album's two-day recording session in Copenhagen (May, 2021) was actually carried out with specific attention given to the trio's free-flowing interplay that has now come to define their music.

Comprised of pianist Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen, Martin Brunbjerg Rasmussen on bass and Lasse Jacobsen on drums, the Little North catalogue has long served as gleaming gems amongst the April Records treasure chest.  As mentioned previously, such a high output paired with an increasingly ambitious scope each go round, with 'Wide Open' Little North have quite possibly unveiled the album that will serve as their most revered piece yet.  

With a trio of 'Improv' interludes spread across the album that openly pay homage to those aforementioned improvisational tendencies, the music throughout is beautifully paced with songs like 'Sunyata' and 'With Four Shadows' being allotted all the time needed for each to tell their respective stories through warm and intimate performances.  'Floating' and 'Lullaby For A Day Fly' are two tracks that are delicately executed in stark contrast to the deliciously sinister tone of 'Swell' which features Rasmussen's bass taking the lead in a welcome change of pace.  The exquisite 'Elna' serves as the album's masterpiece however - its haunting allure weaves an undeniable magic that you can't help but be captivated by.  Bliss!

'Wide Open' marks a sensational offering from the Danish trio and a phenomenal start to the year from April Records who will undeniably be presenting a wonderful collection of innovative new jazz releases over the next twelve months with each having an incredibly high bar to surpass as now established very early by Little North.

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