Haftor Medboe Group - Live Review - Jazz Centre at The Lot, Edinburgh

05 November 2007
The Herald
Rob Adams
3 Stars


Not so much Jazz Centre @ the Lot here as jazz creche as guitarist Haftor Medboe's Danish guest, double-bassist Eva Malling's five-year-old daughter slept the sleep of the innocent in the curtained-off section they call the green room. That the youngster didn't stir says more about her tiredness than her quarters because Medboe's group, while gentle in parts and never likely to be labelled heavy metal, didn't exactly hold back when it came to the crunch, in Medboe's case literally.

The Edinburgh-based Norwegian-rooted guitarist doesn't hog the limelight. His compositions, often with the strong folk influence of much Nordic jazz, are designed to create a mood and feature the two main voices, Konrad Wiszniewski's tenor saxophone and Chris Greive's muscular trombone.

We were four tunes in before Medboe soloed, carefully threading his thoughts together, although in the second half he featured more heavily, working a staccato chord sequence and a jubilant melody into a sampled and layered solo on one piece and using distortion to considerable effect on another.

With Wiszniewski showing the form he's in these days, it's little wonder that Medboe, as a composer, finds him inspiring. His tone, out of the Brecker-Garbarek axis but warmer, is magnificent and his solo-building combines thematic understanding with an exuberance that really lifts the music as whole. New:Happy, the title track of Medboe's latest album with its melody reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's Scandinavian quartet, featured a particularly notable example of Wiszniewski in spate. Generally, though, this was a group effort, with Malling providing a melodic backbone and percussionist Signy Jacobsdottir adding colour or clout as required.

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