As multi-faceted and hard cutting as diamond, as sweet and layered as gelato Napolitano, The Kernel epitomises all that is great about jazz. It features a group of exceedingly skilled musicians navigating a stimulating repertoire of originals and well-chosen tunes from the classic jazz handbook.
Leader, saxophonist Knut Riisnæs released the highly acclaimed 2nd Thoughts (Losen Records) in 2017. His co-musicians on this recording are the same: Anders Aarum (piano), Jens Fossum (bass) and Tom Olstad (drums). It’s a tight unit – a genuine band of well-gigged virtuosi.
The strikingly produced CD opens with Around The Kernel (Aarum). A delicate, rubato piano opening passage leads to a charmingly stated theme in 3/4 followed by delightfully constructed solos by Anders and Knut.
Living Next Door To Hjallis (Fossum) really swings. Anders takes off on a terrific solo that culminates in an exchange with Tom’s ever-ebullient beat.
La Mesha (Kenny Dorham) is a gorgeous 20-bar format ballad. Jens and Tom support sensitive solos by Anders and Knut with empathic mastery.
Lady Day/West End Blues (Shorter/Riisnæs) opens with Knut’s spellbinding take on Wayne Shorter’s haunting ballad and morphs into a walking blues that swings so hard it makes you smile; a foot-tapping stroll that typifies jazz at its best!
Inner Circle (McKee) is a contemplative waltz with theme stated by Knut and Anders and features an endearing solo by Jens followed by solos from piano and sax.
Reminiscence Parts 1 &2 (Riisnæs) is a fitting platform for Knut’s mastery of his instrument opening with an introspective version of the theme leading to a pulsating Latin feel for the tune’s development and solos.
Midnight Waltz (Walton) is a lively blues in 3/4 with strident solos from Knut, Anders and Jens.
The album lovingly and fittingly closes with Love & Peace (Parlan). It is an exquisite ballad performed by a world-class band, so adroitly led by maestro Riisnæs.