Friends & Neighbors with Thomas Johansson | Hungry Brain | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Friends & Neighbors

Friends & Neighbors

Heiko Purnhagen

Friends & Neighbors with Thomas Johansson 

When: Sun., Aug. 28, 9 p.m. 2016
Price: $10 suggested donation
This Norwegian quintet have never played coy about their key influence, naming themselves after a lesser-known Ornette Coleman album from 1970. Still, the presence of a pianist (Coleman almost never worked with keyboardists) is just one measure of the combo’s determination to forge their own sound. As heard on the terrific 2015 album Hymn for a Hungry Nation (Clean Feed), the group’s themes reflect the Coleman influence most explicitly in their ebullient mood and dancing energy, but once the improvisational element kicks in, Friends & Neighbors project a more modern identity. The ballad-like “Bølehøgda” mirrors the sort of grandiloquent gestures embedded in the music of Atomic—a Scandinavian quintet that’s another clear influence—while the muscular playing of Thomas Johansson (a recent visitor to town as a member of the excellent quartet Cortex) bursts through temporal barriers with angular shapes that are thoroughly contemporary.
— Peter Margasak

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