Anytime a musician assembles an ensemble sans a chordal instrument – especially a piano – you wonder what to expect as results are all-too-often sketchy. But the contrabassist Lasse Mørck has nipped such thoughts in the bud. He may [or may not] have delved into theorems by Kurt Gödel and Werner Heisenberg, but the music – like the art of mathematics – is rife with the wonders of ambiguity and uncertainty too. And so, with Imaging Places No One’s Probably Ever Been – the follow-up to Imagining Places I’ve Been is full of happy coincidences and [for want of another way to put it] Mingusisms. Mr Mørck is, after all, enamoured of Charles Mingus and he has capitalized on his inspiration from the great composer and bassist by creating music that confounds, surprises and delights.
As inspirational albums by Mr Mingus go, this album by Mr Mørck is certainly evocative of Tijuana Moods and Cumbia and Jazz Fusion. But there is so much more to Mr Mørck’s music than merely being an homage to Mr Mingus albeit he holds the latter in high esteem. To begin with there is the fact that the young Danish contrabassist goes so much more above and beyond the “Imagining…” of the titles of the albums.
The absence of a chordal instrument far from precludes harmonic invention. There is plenty of it [invention] in this repertoire and it comes from the dark, febrile imagination of the composer. His music is deeply elegant and requires a particular sensitivity to linear shape, lyrical articulation, and clarity of texture, not least to draw upon the pungency of the harmonic language that is produced by his instrument – when it is not playing the role of a rhythmic fortress, that is…
And then, in the spirit of Gödel [and Heisenberg] Mr Mørck invokes the spirit of Johann Sebastian Bach with his extraordinarily expressive use of counterpoint to daub his indigenous musical canvas. Thus, Mr Mørck finds [for himself, and for his musicians] a remarkably atmospheric palette to dip into and to paint musical pictures, often in what appears to be three dimensions. This is evident not only from selections such as The Golden City, The Silver Mountains, and The Moon – each of which are extended visual metaphors, and all of which make up a musical topography that is wonderfully intriguing and irresistibly beckoning at the same time.
The surprises [elsewhere], when they come, are effective and discreet; a gamelan-like riff is played as pizzicato harmonics, a delicate curlicue of a bass line underpins what sounds like a Gaelic lament [when played] by the trumpet of Jonas Due. Close knit passages develop, often from single phrases initiated either by Mr Due or his contrapuntal counterpart, saxophonist Ludvig Samuelsson. And Snorre Kirk – no slouch behind the drum set makes a glorious bedfellow not only for Mr Mørck, but both the horn players as well. In all this invention, one is particularly drawn to the music of The Fletcher’s Blues [no prizes for guessing upon whom this melodic and harmonic lines is based, nor where this rhythmic propulsion comes from.] The recorded sound balances detail and warmth.
Music – 1: The Golden City; 2: The Silver Mountains; 3: The Moon; 4: Underworld Rendez-Vous; 5: Bihimi [Fountain of Youth]; 6: Searching for Atlantis; 7: The Fletcher’s Blues; 8: Pythia [The Oracle].
Musicians – Jonas Due: trumpet; Ludvig Samuelsson: alto and baritone saxophones; Snorre Kirk: drums; Lasse Mørck: contrabass
Released – 2023
Label – Independent
Runtime – 43:52