Andreas Loven was a Norwegian engineer and part-time pianist until a family tragedy and the consoling music of the Tord Gustavsen Trio’s album The Ground led him to contact Gustavsen. The meeting led to Gustavsen becoming his mentor, and Loven turning his back on engineering to pursue a career in music.
A move to South Africa expanded his art further and this is his second album. He has Romy Brauteseth on double bass, Buddy Wells on tenor saxophone and Clement Benny on drums, and it’s all recorded at Murray Anderson’s Milestone Studios in Cape Town.
There are so many encouraging connections in those two paragraphs for me. I have always loved Gustavsen’s music, I grew up in South Africa, Murray is a good friend, and these musicians have also played with my nephew Bokani Dyer. So that’s a load of interests to declare.
But even without those connections, I think I’d still be playing this recording an awful lot and getting loads of enjoyment from it. And I can see myself doing so for many years to come. It’s far too deep an album to be just a passing fancy.
One land seen through the eyes of someone from a very different one is part of the enjoyment – African heat and dusty rhythm filtered through Scandinavian cool and reflection, you might say. And then there is just how good it sounds.
Loven writes strong tunes, some echoing the gospel-tinged melodies of his mentor, some very much anchored in the structures and harmonies favoured by SA jazz. African Piano has the classic township jazz form, and is a fine taster track for the album as a whole, as is the opener Good News, which fully lives up to its title’s optimism.
The whole band works together in an unassuming manner – quietly getting on with things and gelling beautifully. And Buddy Wells is for me a real standard-bearer for modern South African saxophone playing, containing so much that has gone before in his tone and way with an improvisation – a certain expression will recall Basil Coetzee, a nuanced tone Duke Makasi. His use of harmonics at the end of African Piano, using the saxophone a bit like a didgeridoo to play the tune, is the cherry on the top.
Loven’s piano playing is a lovely mix of Norwegian and South African, blending influences of Gustavsen and Ibrahim into something that feels very personal to this man himself. There is a care and gentleness about his music that cannot but appeal, and yet it also feels beautifully relaxed. Brautseth has some lovely solos, with faint singing along – melody oozes from this album – and Benny pushes ever so subtly, with lovely cymbal tones.
The title track of has the characteristic goema rhythm of District Six, the mixed race area of Cape Town that was demolished exactly 50 years ago. It’s easy to dance to and the band does just that, with Wells strutting tall out front, leading the parade.
If, like me, you love Norwegian jazz, South African jazz, or both, seek this out. It hits that sweet spot. In fact irrespective of your tastes in jazz, or music in general, it’s still a winner I think. See if you agree (the track you will hear is Good News):
Categories: CD review