Humcrush with Sidsel Endresen - Ha! (CD Rune Grammofon)

Having not heard Norwegian duo Humcrush’s previous three albums, I wouldn’t know how this collaboration (recorded live at the Willisau Jazz Festival) with the prolific improvisation vocalist Endresen compares, but what’s immediately striking here is just how much space there is, and just how much it remains respected even as the trio tighten the reins. 

Spread over the nine pieces, each and every one entitled ‘Ha!’ and numbered accordingly, is some incredible interplay between Ståle Storløkken’s electronics and percussionist Thomas Strønen’s veering between the steady and measured and more frenetic outbursts. The fact they’ve been playing together for a number of years now is only too apparent as Endresen herself then adds to the chemistry with all from soft singing to vocalisations and utterings that embellish the overall mood perfectly.  

Minimalism and subtlety remain the axis to these pieces. Lots of room for each sound to breathe and spiral to its own unique destination with the album’s stark yet rich atmosphere. No clutter. An overwhelming sense of less being more. Far more. 

This is jazz played by those whose understanding of it is intuitive and arrives from the knowledge it must move forward. As such, the lines between it and other forms of music are now blurred. Ha! is instinctual, abstract purely because of this, and beyond far-reaching. 

I’m certain these would be phenomenal live. RJ