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(73:02, Labels & Gentlemen)
TRACK LIST: 1. Vintage Groove 5:47 2. Walking the Bright Side 6:57 3. Spring 7:23 4. Restless 4:57 5. Park Blues 7:14 6. Evanish 7:18 7. Different Rooms 6:29 8. No Time to Waste 7:24 9. Tretten Kroner Minuttet 7:13 10. Brothers 5:54 11. Autumn 6:26 LINEUP: Oyvind Myhre - drums Jan Espen Storo – keyboards Michael Block – saxophone Baard Helgerud – guitars Erlend Skanke – bass With: A few more musicians
Prolusion. The Norwegian artist Oyvind MYHRE has been around for some years in the Norwegian jazz scene, and while I don't know how renowned or not he is he has been a member of a couple of bands previously, The Loud Jazz Band and Playground, and has a few albums on his CV as a band member. "The Chemistry Project" is more of a solo album, or perhaps a collective collaboration, with Myhre as the principal member. The album was released on the local Norwegian label Labels & Gentlemen in 2010.
Analysis. This CD was one of two CDs that came into my possession when a work-related acquaintance of mine invited me to attend a concert back in November 2013, some of the musicians performing that evening being friends of this person in my network. Due to me talking a bit about reviewing music in my spare time, this led to my acquaintance talking to one of the band members about that, with two CDs given to me as a result of that conversation. I'll readily admit that jazz isn't a type of music I'm all that knowledgeable about, and as far as I'm concerned this production resides safely inside the jazz universe first and foremost. If I should take a guess at specific direction of jazz, jazz funk, fusion and possibly hard bop would be my best shots as a complete amateur in this field. But whatever directions we're talking about the facts that are certain are that several are covered on this disc, and that this is a production that has a focus on rather accessible excursions into the different types of jazz explored. All the songs are instrumental affairs, and they tend to revolve around single dominant solo instruments with one main instrument supporting, fairly often the two instruments in question alternating between having the lead role, and some instances where one gets a stronger impression of two main instruments having more of an intertwined, shared lead role. The main lead instruments are guitar and piano, with a certain emphasis on plucked, light toned notes by the former, ranging from delicate, resonating notes to energetic, vibrant and pace-filled runs, with some instances of electric guitar soloing and more of a jazz rock orientation, while the latter tends to emphasize wandering elongated runs. With a fair amount space for improvisation unless I'm much mistaken. Within this general specification we're treated to quite a few variations, as indicated. Quite a few of these tracks feature funky bass and guitar details, opening piece Vintage Groove a perfect example in that category, while others revolve on a more sparse arrangement with the piano as the central feature throughout. Evanish is a good example of the later, and in that particular case I suspect that Bill Evans has been a rather strong inspiration for the music explored. A third category of material is best represented with the concluding tracks on this CD: slower paced affairs with a stronger emphasis on delicate instrument motifs creating moods of a more distinct melancholic nature, contrasting the positive, joyful and vibrant music explored elsewhere. Whether Myhre and his collaborators have a go at this or that direction or mood, they do so in an elegant manner throughout. Accessible too, this is music easy to enjoy and without any need to decode what's going to be able to comprehend it. I guess one might describe this as jazz with mainstream sensibilities, if such a description can be used about instrumental performances with room for improvisations. And while not all that challenging this is music that has been planned and executed with high quality on all levels from what I can hear, where both individual and collective performances elevate the end product, and with a mix and production that suit the material very well too.
Conclusion. Instrumental jazz that touches upon some of the more accessible varieties of jazz rock, with jazz fusion as a recurring and arguably dominant direction is what Oyvind Myhre provides his listeners with The Chemistry Project, a well made and well performed collection of material that should appeal first and foremost to those with a taste for melody based, smooth jazz and fusion. Fans of bands such as Mezzoforte and Spyro Gyra are a likely key audience, but also those with a certain affection for artists such as Bill Evans might want to lend their ears to at least parts of this CD.
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