Hedvig Mollestad keeps on jazz-rocking like there is no tomorrow. And frankly speaking, maybe there really won’t be a tomorrow so let’s enjoy this one to the full.
With six releases in the past ten years with her infamous trio you could say Mollestad is an unstoppable force in the Norwegian jazz and rock scene. On Maternity Beat she lends her Jimmy Page-to-John McLaughlin guitar skills to another unstoppable force: the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. This orchestra is famed for their work with many jazz greats like Joshua Redman and Chick Corea. So can a big sound get any bigger? Yes,it can.
Usually Hedvig Mollestad’s inspiration dabbles around in big themes such as Greek mythology and the fierce Norse weather conditions. However in this case she approaches her arrangements from the perspective of family life and social justice. The latter is directly addressed on On the Horizon, Part 1 as Mollestad’s shivery guitar is the backdrop to a female choir who cry out a refugee’s plea: “Is there a boat on the horizon?” On Part 2 Mollestad and the orchestra blow life into Maternity Beat with horns, percussion and a swirling riff. Although sounding adventurous, the second part of On the Horizon primarily serves as a way to address the despair that underpins the European migrant crisis. In an interview Mollestad tied these and other pressing worldly issues to her own motherhood. The duality of nurturing your own child conflicts with the images of children and their caretakers on the run. This complex duality brought forth the music on Maternity Beat.
Duality here, reflections there, in the end it’s simply about delivering some good music. So guess what boys and girls, Mollestad delivers! Do Re Mi Ma Ma starts off slow but soon explodes into a funky bass with violin combo. The song seems to break up at points, but just in the nick of time Mollestad saves the wobbling orchestra on several occasions with some wild fusion-is riffs.On Donna Ovis Peppa the eclectic funk-jazz is geared up by the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Dazzling harmonies and echo-y guitar rhythms tumble over each other. Somehow Mollestad stays on top of it all and with that once again shows that she is one of Norway’s most impeccable guitarists. After the big band free-jazz of Little Lucid Demons/Alfons we are treated to a revised version of All Flights Cancelled which is originally part of Hedvig Mollestad Trio’s album Ding Dong. You’re Dead. On this version an organ makes the song a smoother listen but other than that it feels like an unnecessary excursion. The song hardly makes use of the power of the orchestra so, apart from conceptual reasons, why make a retake part of the album.
Nevertheless All Flights Cancelled does wrap up much of the riff-y sides of Maternity Beat. Her Own Shape is a soothing late night jazz song with some spoken word about motherhood and is a huge contrast to the album’s urgent beginnings. Title track Maternity Beat and Maternity Suite, both clocking nine minutes, are the album’s true closers.The title track continues the soothing line but slowly builds up tension due to Mollestad’s lengthy tickles and the orchestra’s lingering fragments. Maternity Beat brings back everyone full glory with Mollestad soloing like an unprejudiced child running around in a busy playground. Eventually the uptempo beat comes together into a steady but free-spirited maelstrom that gives this collaboration a proper closure.
Although conceptually and musically complex, Maternity Beat is a very accessible album for jazz cats and headbangers alike. Due to the track sequence the album’s progression feels unsteady at times so you have to be willing to look beyond that. With this minor point of criticism we can only say that with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra behind her Hedvig Mollestad outdid herself once more. For them Maternity Beat is something to be proud of and for us is something to enjoy over and over again.
Label: Rune Grammofon, 2022
But it here: https://runegrammofon.com/products/hedvig-mollestad-trondheim-jazz-orchestra-maternity-beat-2lp-cd
- On the Horizon, Part 1 (2:48)
- On the Horizon, Part 2 (3:56)
- Do Re Mi Ma Ma (9:58)
- Donna Ovis Peppa (7:43)
- Little Lucid Demons / Alfons (7:33)
- All Flights Cancelled (6:48)
- Her Own Shape (5:23)
- Maternity Beat (9:24)
- Maternity Suite (9:42)
- Mai Elise Solberg – vocals
- Ingebjørg Loe Bjørnstad – vocals
- Trine Knutsen – flute
- Adrian Løseth Waade – violin
- Martin Myhre Olsen – alto sax
- Petter Kraft – tenor sax, guitar
- Susana Santos Silva – trumpet
- Hedvig Mollestad – el. guitar, composition
- Ståle Storløkken – synth/organ
- Ellen Brekken – bass
- Torstein Lofthus – drums
- Ingvald Vassbø – percussion
Review by Wander Meulemans // 281122
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