[This review was first published in Jazz Journal in 2010.]
Chris Speed (ts, cl)
Jacob Anderskov (p)
Michael Formanek (b)
Gerald Cleaver (d)
Warren Street Setup
Be Flat & Stay Flat
Pintxos for Varese
Blue in the Face
Diamonds are for Unreal People
NYC 27th June 2009.
Jacob Anderskov is a member of ILK, a collective of Danish musicians operating on similar collaborative lines to F-IRE, Loop and LIMA in the UK. On this release, ILK presents the first offering from Anderskov’s otherwise American quartet.
The opening group improvisation has a filmic quality with noir-ish touches from the piano and bass. The meandering and almost abstract contributions from all four players set the tone for an album full of searching music which fully merits its title. To be “agnostic” is to not know and to experience “revelation” is to enter into a state (however fleeting) of knowledge. At times this accurately reflects the listening experience: one never knows where this music will go and the constant discovery is the source of satisfaction.
This is an ensemble recording: all four instruments have equal space and opportunity with none relegated to mere time-keeping duties. Highlights are many. The elegant bass passage on Pintxos for Varese (a pintxo is a sort of small snack or tapa found in the Basque Country); Anderskov’s piano intros to Blue in the Face and Diamonds are for Unreal People: rain-like and sinister, respectively; and then the calmer tone of the closing Dream Arch which sets the listener down gently without in any way being ‘easy listening’.
Ultimately, there is throughout a nagging sense of inner turmoil that compels attention; this is music that (whether you like it or not) refuses to fade into the background. The revelation here is how these four musicians keep the listener in a state of enjoyable uncertainty for the full 59 minutes.