Mathias Landæus – Path (ENG review)

Street date April 12th 2024
Mathias Landæus – Path

This album is aimed at a discerning audience. Indeed, Swedish pianist Mathias Landæus draws inspiration from folklore as much as from contemporary classical music or jazz. One must follow its progression as one would with a literary work, turning page after page to enter the universe proposed by the musician. With a lineup of five musicians spanning nearly four decades, the group is a recurring expansion of the pianist’s long-standing trio, featuring three-time Grammy-nominated artist and Blue Note Records artist Tim Hagans (trumpet), and Karl-Martin Almqvist (tenor saxophone), with whom Landæus has been playing and recording for over 20 years.
The impressive collective resume of the ensemble includes performances and recordings with music giants such as Benny Golson, Jerry Bergonzi, Aaron Parks, Dexter Gordon, Joe Lovano, Nduduzo Makhathini, and more. Sometimes veering into the realms of free jazz with a backdrop of ultra-contemporary soft jazz, the listener gets lost like in the streets of an unknown city, leaving room for discovery. Therefore, it’s quite challenging to compare Mathias Landæus’ work with that of another artist. The quality of the performers adds to the complexity of the arrangements, a true delight for genre enthusiasts.
Balancing the spiritual aspect of music with inventive compositional concepts, each piece of “Path” was written within a specific musical framework. “Body” relies on a simple pentatonic melody and an 11/8 vamp, “Mind” is centered around a theme derived from a 12-tone series, “Reminder” cycles symmetrically through three keys, and Tim Hagans’ composition “Free Mess” is a contrapuntal exploration of Olivier Messiaen’s third mode.
With a level of listening and interactivity only achievable through years of performing together, the quintet’s selfless and textured ensemble approach seems to fluctuate through space and energy like a single living being.
Undoubtedly, for me, the title of this album that has managed to fully convince is “Spirit: Waving Flags in the Myst,” which might not be the most obvious choice, but certainly the most representative of the album’s spirit. Mathias Landæus explores multiple avenues, makes numerous propositions, and uses rhythms like punctuation marks at the end of phrases. I find myself back in time, deciphering Dvořák many years ago, with wide-eyed pre-adolescent curiosity over the score, the bow of my cello in hand trying out a few notes, distorting sounds. I feel the same sensation while listening to “Path.” This is quite normal because in most cases, European jazz musicians start by studying classical music. Mathias Landæus is the result of this learning process, which also encompasses the intricacies of jazz. The result is truly impressive, complex. For those who, like me, have the capacity to appreciate such works, it will be an “essential” addition, and perhaps for others, a beautiful discovery. Regardless, jazz is not a fixed musical form; that’s what gives it its charm.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, March 22nd 2024


To buy this album


Line up:
Mathias Landæus | Grand Piano
Tim Hagans | Trumpet
Karl-Martin Almqvist | Tenor Saxophone
Cornelia Nilsson | Drums
Johnny Åman | Double Bass

Track Listing:
Body: A Tree Merging With Itself
Mind: Saved by Imagination
Free Mess
Spirit: Waving Flags in the Mist