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Jakob Bro - Bay of Rainbows (ECM)

27 November 2018

The second album in 2018 from Jakob Bro, Bay of Rainbows is a return to the Danish guitarist’s working trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron. As such, this live record is closer in spirit to 2016’s Streams than this spring’s Returnings, which included veteran Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen and trumpeter/composer/fellow Dane Palle Mikkelborg. As has been noted before, Bro is not a flashy player, preferring to explore the nooks and crannies on the edges of the melody rather than indulge in hot licks and effects pedal madness. Accustomed to working with ambience as much as aggression, Morgan and Baron are perfect accompanists for Bro’s atmospheric approach – it’s no coincidence that they’ve both worked extensively with Bill Frisell, a clear Bro influence.

“Mild,” which opens and closes the record in two different versions, showcases the threesome’s likeminded approach, wafting gently like sedate waves on the ocean’s surface, the moon reflecting on the water. The exceptionally pretty “Copenhagen” puts a Bro-constructed web on top of Baron’s subtle brushes, allowing Morgan to act as chief riffster and soloist, while “Evening Song” lets the trio amble breezily along like a brisk twilight walk. Not everything is shimmer and sigh, though. The expansive “Red Hook” kicks up a bit of a fuss, as Baron brings the rhythm to a boil and Bro responds with more bite in his picking and more menace in his note choices. “Dug” goes even further, as Baron simulates a speeding train, Morgan plucks with authority and Bro makes his Telecaster growl and howl. Regardless of attack, the three demonstrate a near-telepathic ability to follow each other’s instincts, bringing Bro’s compositions to life without extraneous technique or a single wasted note.

 

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