Sophisticated Norwegian pianist Håvard Wiik debuts a new project with a group of Chicago improvisers | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Sophisticated Norwegian pianist Håvard Wiik debuts a new project with a group of Chicago improvisers 

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click to enlarge Håvard Wiik

Håvard Wiik

courtesy the artist

Pianist Håvard Wiik, a Norwegian native who lives in Berlin, is best known for his key role in the Scandinavian free-bop quintet Atomic, for which he writes much of the material. In that context he’s exhibited a strong interest in 20th-century classical music (you can’t miss his love for Morton Feldman), but his roots are in jazz, and he leans hard on that tradition on last year’s This Is Not a Waltz (Moserobie), his first album in more than a decade with his long-running trio, which includes bassist Ole Morten Vågan and drummer Håkon Mjåset Johansen. I’m not sure how often they’ve worked together since releasing 2007’s The Arcades Project, but their rapport sounds undiminished: Wiik’s melodies hug the limber rhythm section like a raft riding gentle waves. The music has more of the rhythmic energy of jazz than some of Wiik’s tunes for Atomic, but his meditative side still comes out on tracks such as the shape-shifting “Tudor Style.” The trio brings astonishing elasticity to “Ceci N’est Pas une Valse” (the title track, albeit in French), toying with time in such a way that it’s not just “not a waltz”—it wouldn’t fit into any category that depends on meter. More recently Wiik’s collective trio Der Lange Schatten, with clarinetist Michael Thieke and bassist Antonio Borghini, dropped the sublimely beautiful Concurrences (Trouble in the East). It’s the same instrumental combination effectively used by the Jimmy Giuffre 3 half a century ago, which Wiik has also celebrated with Ken Vandermark in another trio, Free Fall. On Concurrences, Wiik’s playing toggles with harmonic brilliance between tender lyricism and glassy, abstract runs. This week he debuts a new book of tunes written for the premiere of his Chicago Project, a sextet with reedists Dave Rempis and Jason Stein, cornetist Josh Berman, bassist Jason Roebke, and drummer Tim Daisy.   v

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