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Saturday, August 30, 2014

CD Review: Jacob Karlzon 3 - Shine

Jacob Karlzon (piano, keys, synths & programming); Hans Anderson (bass); Robert Mehmet Ikiz (drums).
(Review by JC)
Jacob Karlzon is a new name to me but he was initially widely known as a piano partner of Viktoria Tolstoy and he released a well-received debut trio record More in 2012. In the sleeve notes to this new album Shine he describes his aim as wanting to combine the best of two worlds: '- the openness, curiosity and energy of jazz, and the power, catchiness and the production techniques of pop'. At first glance this was not a project to set my pulses racing as it has never seemed to me a combination that enriches either genre. And this was confirmed somewhat by a number of the tracks that feature the piano/keys over the solid rhythm section and various background washes of synths and programming. Enjoyable but not particularly outstanding.
To my mind the more interesting tracks are later on the CD where the jazz influence dominates more. Inner Hills has a delicate, melodic feel and Screening Self creates a solid jazz-rock groove. The final track A Thousand Conclusions gives the bass player a chance to demonstrate his soloing abilities, something that is rare on the rest of the album.
Karlzon is clearly a very fine piano player and all of the tracks are his own compositions except for the U2 song I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. However, there is a tendency in the unattributed sleeve notes to over-hype his work with, for example, the U2 song being described as 'this fragile, achingly beautiful solo-piano version' which, although very well played, seems a little excessive (although I should declare a bias here as the Irish popsters are not my favourite 'go to' composers). Karlzon himself is given to some new age philosophising and in explaining why Shine is the title of the album says: 'From a musical standpoint, a constantly changing glow permeates the entire album. I hope that this music helps each and everyone who hears it to shine a little in their daily life.' I couldn't help thinking that these descriptions were unnecessary and the music can stand on its own merits.
JC.
Jacob Karlzon 3 - Shine Released on ACT on September 15

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