Bassist Anne Mette-Iversen’s new quintet album, Round Trip, is described as a set of tunes designed “to return to the starting point via a different road”, and the tunes on the album succeed at doing just that. Each song on the album has a feeling of movement and fluidity. At times, that makes for an almost cinematic listening experience.
The quintet on Round Trip is Mette-Iversen on bass along with John Ellis on sax, Peter Dahlgren on trombone, Danny Grissett on piano, and Otis Brown III on drums, all playing at the highest level and interacting with each other as a true band. Everyone here has a chance to shine as the compositions (all by Mette-Iversen) leave plenty of room for improvisation while providing a very sturdy structure for the musicians to build on. The shifting nature of the songs means that the music is regularly taking unexpected turns, always finding something fresh for your ear. Perhaps the best example of that is the second tune on the album, “Lines & Circles”, which starts with a lovely piano/bass duet before that theme is passed to the horns. This builds and moves until the halfway point of the tune, where the band seamlessly drops into a stuttering groove – totally unexpected, but also totally natural, a real accomplishment.
Elsewhere on the album, “The Ballad That Would Not Be” is a whole-band composition that gives way to a beautiful solo piano improvisation from Grissett; “Viinsted’s View” opens with a solo sax improvisation from Ellis before landing on a lovely ballad; and “Red Hairpins” closes the album with the piano doubling the bassline and a spotlight for the drums toward the end of the tune. Dahlgren’s trombone plays an almost trumpet-like role throughout the album, trading phrases with Ellis’ sax on the title track and opening “Segue” with an engaging drum/trombone duet. While there are places for Mette-Iversen’s bass to take a solo, mostly the composer plays a supporting role as a musician, syncing her lines together with Brown and Grissett.
Overall, Round Trip is an engaging, thoroughly modern and forward-thinking album that reveals new layers on repeated listening. Highly recommended stuff.