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The best improvisors are the ones that seem to invent and uninvent their instruments right in front of your eyes and ears. Swedish pianist Sten Sandell and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are two musical champions with a long experience of doing exactly that. Jacana, the latest in Rune Grammofon’s occasional series of unusual duo combinations, features the pair’s sparky improvised set captured at the 2013 Kongsberg Jazz Festival in southern Norway. Sten and Paal have been working together since forming a trio with Swedish bassist Johan Berthling (Fire!, Tape, etc) in 1999, but this duet marks the start of a new chapter in their relationship. Jacana’s three tracks find the players flying close to the limits of their comfort zones, sometimes resembling the strange formality of Asian court music. It’s savage and ritualistic, spiky yet flowing, arhythmic but surging with understated pulses.


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