Carsten Dahl/Arild Andersen/Jon Christensen, Space Is the Place

Steve Holtje

By Steve Holtje

on 07.09.12 in Reviews
Danish pianist with a distinctively ruminative style

For Danish jazz pianist Carsten Dahl, bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Jon Christensen, this album’s title seemingly refers to the spirit of their airy free improvisations rather than to Sun Ra’s infamous soundtrack and film. In its own quiet way, however, it is as questing and deeply personal as the self-proclaimed Saturnian’s music. Dahl is sometimes forceful and often dissonant, but he plays a 10th as many notes as, say, Cecil Taylor, instead recalling the harmonic approach of Paul Bley or Ran Blake, minus their blues base. Christensen keeps the pulse loose a la Paul Motian while Andersen skitters lightly underneath. The trio find some unique textures along the way: “Hcabbach” begins like a warped Bach Invention. Dahl uses prepared piano on “Nariman’s Mood,” matched with kalimba, the buzzes and rattles of both producing a hammered dulcimer sound that matches the piece’s sinuous Eastern European modality. “Eyes of an Owl” is a gnomic solo piano piece that sounds as much like classical as like jazz. Free-jazz fans should enjoy this trio’s distinctively ruminative style.