Hâkon Kornstad, Single Engine

Peter Margasak

By Peter Margasak

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Young Norwegian saxophonist blazes his own path on his debut solo album.

One of Norway's most flexible and diverse young saxophonists, Hakon Kornstad could almost be the poster boy for stylistic range. He's worked in straight-ahead contexts, so-called “nu-jazz” with scene kingpin Bugge Wessltoft, free improvisation and his own polyglot pop-funk-jazz-rock juggernaut Wibutee. But on his first solo album Kornstad finds yet another path. Although he sticks mainly to tenor sax, there's a strong undercurrent of Scandinavian folk music — such as the gorgeous “Sweden,” which flits between lyric passages and terse multiphonic patterns. On most of the tunes he multi-tracks rhythmic elements — on flute and melodica — and a few guests join him on several numbers, including Knut Reiersrud's gorgeous lap steel on “Kokarde.” But it's the reedist's resourcefulness — particularly his skill at organizing minimal materials into fully realized performances — and melodic gifts that keep this anything but Spartan.