Brandur Jacobsen,
A Wizard's Journey
(Tutl, 2004)

Brandur Jacobsen is one of a group of musicians from the Faroe Islands recording for their own Tutl label. Working together in what can be assumed to be at least partial isolation, the Tutl group produces interesting CDs, somewhat reminiscent of the ECM label, and more eclectic and varied sounding than most American jazz.

The quartet here is Jacobsen on drums, percussion and Rhodes keyboards, Mikael Blak on bass, Bui E. Dam on guitar and Olavur Olsen on trumpet.

This CD is not straight-ahead jazz; for example, it mixes in influences from electronica and folk music. The title would make this seem like one of those "inspired by The Lord of the Rings" recordings, but there is too much jazz for that.

Each of the nine tracks sounds different. In the first, the title track, Olsen plays in front of somewhat droning keyboards and guitar, with a hand drum as the loudest percussion. "Mountain Spirit" is similar, but faster paced, with a stronger bass line. "Morning Sun" is a more traditional jazz ballad. "Search No More" has a funk beat, with Jacobsen overtracked on Rhodes and drums.

Four songs do not include Olsen. "Broken Wings" and "Embrace Our World" have Dam and Blak playing acoustically with Jacobsen on a drum kit. On "Sea Lion" Dam and Blak use electric instruments. "Freedom is Mine" is a drum solo by Jacobsen.

The better tracks include Olsen. He plays in a melodic style, less interested in speed and more in making each note count, reminding the listener of Miles Davis in one of his lyrical periods.

There is a quiet lyricism throughout this CD, a minor key/melancholy feel that seems to reflect the character of the Faroe Islands. Like just about everything on the Tutl label, this is a fine work that is well worth exploring.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 13 August 2005

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