With each successive outing -- first 2011ʼs Anthem followed by their raucous RareNoiseRecords debut, 2013ʼs InterStatic -- the potent Norway-based trio of expatriate Brit organist Roy Powell, Norwegian guitarist Jacob Young and Norwegian drummer Jarle Vespestad has upped the ante on intensity and audaciousness while arriving at a nexus where rock organically meets jazz. Now the powerhouse unit has reached a new level with 2014ʼs superb Arise.
Together these three complementary voices create an organ/guitar trio for the 21st century. "The chemistry between the band members is what it always was," says principal composer Powell. "Itʼs three strong-willed, opinionated people working together to make the best music we can. We have regular discussions and disagreements but thankfully few fist fights. And although I write the majority of the material, it is constantly being honed by the group, which is why live work is so important."
Fueled by the remarkably flexible drummer Vespestad (known for his work with Tord Gustavsen, Silje Nergaard, Supersilent, and Farmers Market), Arise shifts nimbly from grungy anthems like "Doozy Mugwump Blues" and "Alexa" to intricate numbers like "Caerbannog" (named after the cave protected by the killer rabbit in the absurdly comedic 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail) to the swinging "Alpha Dog." Powellʼs "Frankʼll Fix It," full of challenging stop-time phrases, is dedicated to one of his major influences, Frank Zappa. "I was lucky enough to be introduced to the music of Zappa and Miles Davis at exactly the same time when I was 13 years old hanging with my hip pen-pal´s family in Germany in ´79," he recalls. "I heard Bitches Brew and Roxy & Elsewhere and my mind opened up and remained that way as I searched for those recordings and others by Frank and Miles when I got back to the UK. I listen regularly to Zappa to this day and probably will never stop, just like I have been reading William S.Burroughs for 30 years and still find profound truths in his work."
Powellʼs dynamic "Wonderfall" carries the influence of the pioneering fusion band Lifetime featuring UK guitar hero John McLaughlin and Newark, New Jersey-based organist Larry Young. "I was never drawn to the Jimmy Smith organ trio sound from his Blue Note Records days in the early ʻ60s," says Powell. "It was only when listening to Larry Young that organ became a serious interest for me and as I grew up listening to jazz-rock, the whole idea of being locked into a previous eraʼs aesthetic did not appeal. Instead, I loved the sense of freedom and risk-taking that I heard on Lifetimeʼs Emergency!"
For the outstanding, genre-bending guitarist Jacob Young, Arise represents a complete departure from his more pristine outings as a leader on the ECM label. His unhinged wah-wah and distortion solos throughout Arise provide the some of the most explosive moments on this very audacious trio outing. "InterStatic is entirely a different kind of group and differs from my ECM outings in several ways," says the Oslo-based guitarist. "On my ECM albums we strive for a cleaner, more natural acoustic sound on each instrument. InterStatic is sound-wise almost an opposite to my ECM group. I love both ways of working with improvised music.
Young, Powell and Vespested represent a powerful triumvirate on their third record together overall and second for RareNoise Records. "We have developed a deep respect for each other over the course of our three albums," says Young. "We are three different guys that happen to play some music together, sometimes we have a blast doing it too. Sometimes we disagree, and we can discuss angles of maybe a mix or a tempo or a certain way of how to play a tune, but we have headroom to handle this. In a way, we have learned to deal with each otherʼ s quirks, strengths and moods and we get good at reading each other in the process."
"Open-mindedness should be a pre-requisite of all musicians so we just play whatever we feel like," adds Powell, who also plays organ in the RareNoise group Naked Truth. "At the time of our first release, Anthem, we were mixing the repertoire of a modern jazz organ trio with no distorted sounds with some more rock sounds. We took this further on InterStatic and now on Arise the gloves are off. We get a real kick out of performing the more intricate compositions to audiences as nothing beats some well coordinated weirdness together with some heavy grooving and soloing!"
All of those elements come together in righteous fashion on Arise, InterStaticʼ s most thunderous and freewheeling outing to date.
Musicians: Ray Powell (Hammond Organ), Jacob Young (Electric Guitar), Jarle Vespestad (Drums)
Tracks: Doozy Mugwump Blues / Caerbannog / Alpha Dog / Iwato / Frank'll Fix It / In The Beginning / Doozy (Reprise)
Arise is available on August 4, 2014 through Rare Noise Records.