Eleventte is the ambitious debut album of Norwegian, 27-year- old bassist Dan Peter Sundland that attempts to merge compositions for chamber ensembles, improvised segments and texts from contemporary American poets. Sundland’s group consists of four classically-trained musicians, plus seven musicians with backgrounds in modern jazz and free improvisation, most notably tenor saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg and drummer Hans Hulbækmo, both members of Paulsberg Concept, and trombonist Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø, one of the most promising, busiest Norwegian free improvisers and a member of the Lana Trio, As Deafness Increases and Skadedyr outfits.
This project began as part of Sundland’s European Jazz Master program at the esteemed Trondheim Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), where he studied with such prominent bassists as Ole Morten Vågan, Mats Eilertsen and Michael Francis Duch. Gradually, the project grew and attracted more classmates and NTNU graduates. Sundland insisted that the music be communicative, given the demanding cerebral background of his compositions and the poetic texts. He wisely chose wisely the up and coming vocalist Emilie Nicolas Kongshavn, who delivers the texts with a delicate yet commanding, clear voice.
The first composition, “Pentatina for Five Vowels” is based on a poem by Campbell McGarth (who wrote a play based on the life of Norwegian painter Edvard Munch). The first part is introduced by Kongshavn repeating certain words accompanied with minimalist, repetitive wavelike movements by the ensemble, reminiscent of Philip Glass chamber work. Soon, alto saxophonist Martin Myhre Olsen and Nørstebø expand these movements with improvised solos. The second part features Kongshavn reading the entire poem over a gentle, careful arrangement. The post-minimalist arrangement of Christopher Buckley’s “Catecheism of the Sea” follows the poem’s typography, where each phrase is comprised of two lines, a long one followed by a short one. Sundland still borrows minimalist elements from the Glass vocabulary, but transforms them with an impressive, finger-style solo on the electric bass.
“A Western Ballad,” based on an early Allen Ginsberg work, is the most intriguing and balanced composition here. Paulsberg’s beautiful, lyrical solo and delicate chamber segment by violinist Ola Lindseth and cellist Tabita Berglund, as well as the clear and gentle reading of Kongshavn, enhances the melancholic-romantic temperament of the poem. The ensemble creates a thick, cinematic soundscape for “Cuttings & Cuttings,” based on a poem by Theodore Rothke, inspired by nature’s scenery. This spare composition sounds inspired by the majestic Norwegian land and sea. The final song “Subtonevals” is a brief, slow instrumental waltz that highlights the soft, breathy low registers of the saxophones.
Elevenette offers a bold, original vision of composition, improvisation and poetry. Even in its weakest moments, where Sundland’s orchestral references become too transparent, it succeeds as an arresting work. (by Eyal Hareuveni)
Tabita Berglund (cello)
Hans Hulbækmo (percussion, vibraphone)
Torstein Lavik Larsen (trumpet)
Nils Marius Kjøsnes (clarinet)
Emilie Nicolas Kongshavn (vocals)
Erik Lefsaker (flute)
Ola Lindseth (violin)
Henrik Munkeby Nørstebø (trombone)
Martin Myhre Olsen (saxophone)
Hanna Paulsberg (saxophone)
Dan Peter Sundland (bass)
01. Pentatina For Five Vowels I – Words (Sundland/Campbell/McGrath) 9.06
02. Pentatina For Five Vowels II – Poem (Sundland/Campbell/McGrath) 6.02
03. Catechism Of The Sea (Sundland/Buckley) 10.13
04. A Western Ballad (Sundland/Ginsberg) 7.33
05. Cuttings & Cuttings (later) (Sundland/Roethke) 9.46
06. Subtonevals (Sundland) 2.06