Atomic | Constellation | Jazz | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Fri., Feb. 13, 9:30 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 14, 9:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $15
Over the last decade and a half, few working jazz bands have matched the ferocity, interplay, grace, and charged balance between composition and improvisation possessed by the Scandinavian free-bop quintet Atomic. Since forming in 2000 the band had retained the same peerless lineup, an important factor to its high-level rapport, quicksilver reactions, and seemingly telepathic communication. But last year powerful drummer Paal Nilssen-Love—a tireless time keeper and key textural force who perennially pushed the music toward freedom—suddenly left the group to focus more on fully improvised endeavors. His seat has been filled by the young Norwegian Hans Hulbækmo, who worked previously in the impressive trio Moskus, and after hours spent listening to Atomic’s excellent new album Lucidity (Jazzland), I’m convinced that Hulbækmo is up to the seemingly impossible task of replacing him. Hulbækmo’s not as wild as his predecessor, but he fits neatly within the shape-shifting tunes composed by reedist Fredrik Ljungvkist and pianist Håvard Wiik. In these Atomic continues to veer smartly and deftly between hard-swinging passages and moments of hydroplaning serenity that are indebted to Morton Feldman, and I can’t think of another group that so easily merges vanguard jazz with ideas from contemporary classical music without ever sounding fussy or glib. Bassist Ingebrit Håker Flaten remains the group’s backbone, switching between outlining the changes and driving the grooves, while trumpeter Magnus Broo tangles beautifully with Ljungvkist on the front line. The band has always elevated its game when it plays live, and I for one can’t wait to see what Hulbækmo brings. —Peter Margasak

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