Review of Mathias Eick’s “The Door” (2008)
Mathias Eick: trumpet, guitar, vibraphone
John Balke: piano, electric piano
Audun Kleive: drums, percussion
Audun Erlien: electric bass, guitar
Stian Carstensen: pedal steel guitar
Trumpeter Mathias Eick focuses all the qualities that have made him a musician to be reckoned with in and around jazz of the last decade. “The Door” is distinguished by vaulting lyricism and clear-edged melodies, a strong sense of ambient space in the writing, and edge and excitement and openness to improvisation. The 28-year-old Norwegian cites Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Kenny Wheeler, Tomasz Stanko, Arve Henriksen, and Nils Petter Molvaer as influences upon his stylistic evolution as a soloist. However, it was his own characteristic sound that prompted the International Association of Jazz Educators to present him the International Jazz Award for New Talent in 2007. The prize included support for an international tour, allowing Eick and musicians to develop their repertoire. “The Door” was subsequently records in Oslo’s Rainbow and Cabin Recorders studios in 2007.
Eick’s spacious pieces allow plenty of free range for Jon Balke, whose resourcefulness as pianist, always taking the path less trodden, is in evidence throughout the album. Balke’s playing is one of the pleasures of “The Door.” Orchestrator par excellence in presentations of his own music (particularly with Magnetic North), Balke the pianist is effectively an arranger-in-action here, continually opening up fresh perspectives inside Eick’s robust ballads and mid-tempo pieces.
Drummer Audun Kleive is another player with deep ECM roots. A former member of Terje Rypdal’s Chasers and of Charles Lloyd’s touring quartet, he has also had a long association with percussionist Marilyn Mazur. Here he in tandem with bassist Audun Erlien, developing and telescoping the grooves and pulses.
Guest artist Stian Cartensen, who appears on three tunes (“Cologne Blues,” “October,” and “December”) is here featured on pedal steel guitar, an instrument whose expressive potential is rarely glimpsed in jazz contexts.
Mathias Eick’s resume includes work with musicians of many styles, from Chick Corea and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra to Norwegian psychedelic rock band Motorpsycho. A primary project in the last 10 years has been the jazz/progressive rock ten-piece band Jaga Jazzist: Eick’s multi instrumentalism has been an important part of that group’s sound and on “The Door” he is also heard on vibraphone and guitar as well as trumpet, as he puts it, whatever needs to be played.
Eick has appeared on two ECM recordings with Norwegian-American guitarist Jacob Young, “Evening Falls” and “Sideways,” and on Finnish harpist/pianist/composer Iro Haarla’s “Northbound.” In 2007, he became a frontline soloist of Manu Katché’s band, appearing on the best-selling “Playground” and touring extensively with the French/African drummer.
Available for purchase online at www.amazon.com, www.buycd.com, and in record stores.