Krokofant - Q [Rune Grammofon - 2019]Q is album number four from this progressive, at times free Jazz collective Krokofant- who come from Kongsberg, Bukserud, Norway. For the album the band expands from a guitar/sax/drums trio to a quintet adding in Keys and bass- all to offer up a propulsive & often urgent album that seemingly effortless & masterful shifts between jazz genres- moving from grooving-to- jam-based jazz-rock, through to free jazz, jazz fusion and beyond.
The album appeared late last year on Rune Grammofon- as either a CD or double vinyl/ CD release- we’re reviewing the stand-alone double CD version of the release. The CD comes presented in six-panel digipak- this features on it’s outside color circles within square design, and on the inside, we get a tow page write-up about the album.
Krokofant started off around 2014 as a three-piece taking in Tom Hasslan on guitars, Axel Skalstad on drums & vibraphone, and Jørgen Mathisen on Saxophones. With Q we get the addition of Ståle Storløkken on Keyboards and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass.
The CD version is split into four tracks, these six & thirteen-minute a piece, with a total album runtime of spot on forty-three minutes. The tracks are simply labeled as parts 1 to 4, and while the is a fair bit of shift & movement in the genres going on through-out all the four tracks, there are most certainly repeated melodies & themes through-out all of the tracks- this gives the whole thing very much a suite-like feel.
I see little point in doing completely track-by-track breakdown, as even the shorter tracks dart are all over the place- though what is consistent & fairly firm through-out is the often propulsive & bounding drum work. On “Part 1” we move from a swooning hammond organ & simmering swinging sax harmony, onto tight grooving jazz rock-outs, though to blends of wail spacy guitar scrapings & pounding drums. “Part 2” starts out with detail afro drum patterns & darting groovy keys, before launching into swinging 1970’s jazz-rock outs, then shifting down into more simmering & rising analog synth scaping, before later shifting into chugging metallic riff craft & darting hornwork. In “Part 4” we move from marching vibe work, hornwork & guitar prog-jazz precision, before later diving into manic Hammond organ runs, moving sink into blends of jerky keys & free jazz horn work, before ending in another gunning & pacing jazz rock-out.
Q is a very self-assured & punchy album that masterful shifts through different jazz sub-genre traits, peppering them nicely with non-jazz genre touches. It’s very much an urgent & wild ride of an album- that grabs from the off, and doesn't let you down until it finishes- yet for all, it’s darting 'n' blending the compositions- it never loses it sight of revisited themes & melody, or forget the need for firm but shift foundations beneath the whole thing.Roger Batty