The Faroe Islands might not seem like a hotbed of jazz, but anyone who has followed Tutl's catalogue knows otherwise. The Torshavn-based record label releases a diverse variety of music; some hews close to the traditional material found in these Norse islands, while some is very conceptual and experimental. Tjant's self-titled first album is an offering of relatively straight-ahead modern jazz.
The lineup is Hedin Ziska Davidsen on guitar and vocals, Anders Hagberg on flutes and saxophone, Mikael Blak on bass and Brandur Jacobsen on drums. All of the cuts are written by Davidsen and arranged by the group.
The flute or sax frequently takes center stage on these tracks. There is a mix of moods from almost cheery ("Bagatelle Fur Godzilla") to raucous ("Happiless") to pensive ("Alone Alas") to gentle "("Barn"). There's even a brief bit of wind ambience called "Millum Logini." The mood often changes during tracks, making it hard to pin down the music in a simplistic manner. I found myself thinking of Bill Frisell's skronk work at times, and of the late pianist Bill Evans' trio work at other times. All the musicians have excellent chops and they work together well, but I found myself particularly enjoying Mikael Blak's bass work.
Apart from the music, the album presents a nice physical package. The digipak design features glossy photos on matte stock, and is enjoyable to look at and handle. The type design leans heavily on a faux-typewriter font, so the type gives a low-rent feeling that is belied by the otherwise-glossy package.
The ideal listener for this album is someone willing to take a little time to relax and soak up this music's many moods. If that sounds like you, check out Tjant.
by Jennifer Hanson