The gentle attraction of beauty
“Mélange Bleu” by bass player, cellist and composer Lars Danielsson - the art of subtly blended colours
Lars Danielsson ACT-debut “Libera me“ (ACTSACD 9800-2) left no doubts about his creative versatility. And yet: the bass player, cellist and composer continues to surprise. His latest ACT-release “Mélange Bleu” (ACT 9604-2) shows up a completely new dimension to this musician with enormous potential. Danielsson has surrounded himself with partners like pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer und guitarist Eivind Aarset, all of them specialists for mood music that often develops in before a backdrop of ambient inspired sounds, samples and programmed beats. Danielsson takes the same route on this recording, but adds a very personal touch, blending the electronic parts subtly with acoustic instruments and orchestral arrangements. Each musical ingredient is quietly and subtly integrated into a thoughtful and carefully crafted composition, Danielsson’s “Mélange Bleu” develops a gentle attraction through its lyrical beauty and finely honed details.
Lars Danielsson has mastered the art of carefully developing even the finest nuances into a coherent whole. Born in 1958 and trained in classical cello at the conservatory of his hometown Gothenburg before he turned to the bass and jazz music, Danielsson is a musician who has developed a new quality of beauty in sound. He has cultivated an uncommonly tangible, mellow and soft tone that is at once round and gentle. No matter which of the little solo parts (Tracks 5,7,8 or 10 on “Mélange Bleu”, just to mention some of the more prominent ones) we listen to: seldom have we heard a bass or cello in jazz played with such subtle strength and roundness. As a composer, Danielsson has a great feel for elegant, soaring melodies. He uses his great versatility almost casually: Alongside the cello and the double bass, he plays fender bass, piano and fender rhodes, yet he never loses his overview, and he contributes meaningful and charmingly understated parts on all these instruments.
The ten tracks on this CD form an organic whole. Simple and accessible motivic fragments serve as hooks, but convey a fleeting and airy quality, especially on track 4, “Ironside”. The introverted trumpet and cello melancholia of the almost twenty-minute “Judas Bolero” develops into a delicate orchestral opulence, which condenses more and more as the piece progresses, and hints at the Miles Davis/Gil Evans classic “Sketches Of Spain”. But this is less of a cross reference, than a multi-dimensional continuation. Danielsson creates a tonal universe in which romanticism, ambient echoes and an intense, dramatic, harmonically complex contemporary jazz combine in an excitingly matter-of-fact way.
Danielsson’s soundscapes are at once succinct and enthralling, at times leaning towards the dark and mysterious (track 6, “Minor People“), toward the light and rhythmic (track 7, “Sketches Of Twelve“), at times angular with lyrical resolutions (track 8, “Naive“) or with an almost mechanical, driving energy (track 9, “Bacchanalia“). And yet the album never feels like a patchwork, because Danielsson’s lyrical strength and his quiet but glorious competence as a soloist draw the tracks together into a coherent and convincing whole. The leader has a commanding presence, and yet he leaves ample room for his all-star cast to shine. Bugge Wesseltoft and Nils Petter Molvaer contribute wonderful solos. Drummer Jon Christensen’s quiet art makes him constantly recognizable as an essential creative partner in this project. This is a CD that takes us on new and astounding musical journeys. And more so, the more we listen. “Mélange Bleu”: an imaginative work of art, subtly blending a myriad of tonal colours.