2018 WhyPlayJazz (WPJ044), CD + MP3 Album Download
Mads la Cour (cornet, flugelhorn), Lars Greve (clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone), Kasper Tom Christiansen (drums), Mariusz Praśniewski (double bass)
Recorded 1st & 2nd of May 2017 by Chris Weeda at Fattoria Musica Studios, Osnabrück, Germany Mixed by Chris Weeda. Mastered Peter Hellesøe. All compositions by Mads la Cour. Produced by Mads la Cour for WhyPlayJazz. Design and artwork by Travassos. Cover art: Woodcut by Per Kirkeby, © Donation Jorn, Silkeborg / Per Kirkeby. With support from Svendborg Musikråd, DJBFA, Dansk Artist Forbund and Dansk Skuespillerforbund.
Fascinating melodies are spiritually bound together as Almugi skirts the well-traveled highways on its way to forging new paths. An emotive music from the European North amazes with its sophisticated originality, as it creates an earthy, natural musical atmosphere.
Played by a band with an uncanny feel for one another, the music on Mads la Cours’ fourth album, “Almugi” revels in a subtle intimacy. This Danish musician’s compositions point the direction towards a uniquely well-rounded music, balanced, truthful, and played with a deliberate intensity.
Despite the dangers and ever-increasing problems in the world, the goal is to find the beauty that surrounds us, to acknowledge and never lose sight of that beauty. The musicians all stem from the Danish island of Fünen; they are all in their late 30’s, and busy with various musical projects, yet since 2015 they have made this band their focal point. There is something grating and ruff-edged; the horns splinter the tones, compress and assimilate the sounds in such a way that an earthy, natural musical atmosphere is created and maintained. Nothing is smoothed over or pre-packaged.
Mads la Cour is searching for that which is good and true. He is concerned about the human indifference and the lack of altruism around us. It angers him when the wrong people gain control of the levers of power. His composition "Støjland Møgland" alludes to Inger Støjberg, the Danish Minister for Immigration, Integration, and Housing. “Terminus” refers to a jazz club in France that offers ideal working conditions. “Gammelton” is a hymn to his parents. The title piece, “Hule”, concerns itself with a cave used as refuge, a safe haven against stress and anxiety, a place in which one would want to sign up to stay. However, the art on this album is bound to earthy nature, face to face with the world’s wounds and wonders.
There is a transparent texture and elasticity to the music. Fascinating melodies are spiritually bound together. The album skirts the well-traveled highways as it forges new paths. “Almugi” is the ancient Scandinavian word that signifies “free men of the Kingdom who possess the quality of goodness” – a fitting word for the players and music on this album.
Mads la Cour has a well-formulated and intelligent quartet who speaks to and never down to the listener. They tell insightfully and with depth. It is an intense experience to listen to the record, which both scratches and pleases.
I am very glad that this pearl did not escape me. Mads la Cour's Almugi were completely unknown to me ... This is contemporary jazz as it is fun. You can sit back and enjoy. Enjoy how melodies and harmonies unfold here, how music is played together (!). It reminds me a little of Charles Mingus ... you feel the blind togetherness, the interlocking of the interactions. Also very well received. That's how it should be. Keep it up. Now all I have to do is listen to her live. That would be perfect.
When Mads la Cour is together with Lars Greve, something happens in the music, which is not everyday at the Danish jazz scene. The two musicians have a very special language together. [...] It is music equipped with an on voltage. In the interplay between La Cour and Greve there are the planned areas that lift the musicians into the unpredictable where the light burns to a degree so that there is fire. [...] The title of the album "Hule" is about a place where it is safe and nice. It seems that the four musicians have found a cave where they are in peace and can be together about the music. As a listener, the cave is an exciting and evolving place to live. In other words, it is a highly recommendable album.
The music here is built on a patient forbearance, a hallmark of European jazz, but also there is a purposeful reconnoitering of the edges of the avant-garde. La Cour has constructed an elegant tone with his horn and he is not opposed to pushing boundaries and technique. [...] The music is playful, buoyant, and knotty. Maybe we should say naughty. Make a note to keep an eye (ear) on Mads la Cour's blossoming career.
The beauty that surrounds us, to capture and bring to light, is the "mission" that the Danish trumpeter Mads La Cour and his band Almugi have set themselves for the album Hule. [...] Throughout the album, La Cour convinces with its soft and intense playing, where traces of swing, bebop and more modern forms of expression embody a postmodern symbiosis.
Though Almugi is an all-acoustic quartet, it isn't a ‘60s throwback but most definitely a contemporary jazz outfit that draws from multiple traditions, free jazz, bop, and folk among them. The playing's sometimes rough-edged and fiery, but the group can also play with delicacy and nuance when necessary. An effective balance is struck between formal composition and improvisation in these oft-episodic pieces, with the members effecting transitions between notated sections and solos with agility. On Hule, Almugi repeatedly shows itself to be an exceptionaly nimble unit.
These are modern compositions that leave plenty of room for improvisation both individually and collectively. The style of music fits into the tradition of European improvised music. But Mads La Cour and his companions provide structure, melody and theme. [...] The Almugi group has been together for several years and you can hear that. The four individual parts of the quartet complement each other perfectly and create surprising interplay and sound structures. [...] The album 'Hule' by Mads La Cour Almugi is a pearl for the lover of exciting contemporary music.
The music is a beautiful collection of melodic themes, mostly serene and melancholic, with a lot of space and breathing air, which allows for each note to be heard distinctly and clearly. [...] Obvious respect between the musicians and a common goal of achieving the most fulfilling effect are fully realized herein, and the album is a truly delightful listening experience. The balance between the Jazz tradition and the new forms of expression, treatment of time, rhythm and harmony are a perfect example of the strength and ingenuity of contemporary young European Jazz, which is bursting with talent and creativity. [...] This album is highly recommended to all modern European Jazz connoisseurs, who are open-minded enough to deal with some degree of Free Jazz, which is well behaved enough to please and avoid chaos, but challenging enough to keep the listener on his toes. Very well done indeed!
All musicians shine on their instruments. They play at the highest technical level and thus impress the beautiful compositions. [...] An all-round album presented to us by Mads la Cour's Almugi. Sonically, there is also nothing to complain about, so that you can only award the highest rating, which also happens here. Recommendation!
Mads la Cour composes his music by taking inspiration from situations of social, political, musical and human relations. Subtle writing attaches great importance to the combined play of individualities without excessive restraint by combining timbres and instruments as part of a very successful aesthetic project.
The timbre of the instruments is a perfect match and the way La Cour and Greve merge their parts, interweave their sounds or play together in a transversal way, is delicious. [...] Mads la Cour's Almugi finds a golden mean between tradition and modernity, between flexibility and opposition and between aesthetics and ingenuity. All this is wrapped in strong compositions and that makes Hule an excellent jazz record.
«Hule» was recorded on May 2017 in Germany and emphasizes the highly personal sound and compositional voice of La Cour, anchored in an intimate, emphatic setting and rooted in the Nordic lyrical jazz legacy. True to ancient meaning of Almugi, La Cour music attempts to capture an optimist spirit of all the good and beauty that surrounds us. La Cour compositions reflect at the same time his concern about human indifference, lack of altruism around us and his anger about the wrong people who have gained powerful positions. [...] This [...] emphasizes again the organic, intimate interplay of this excellent quartet.