Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick’s new album extends the concept and the panoramic sweep of his ECM debut “The Door” (recorded 2007). “It’s wider and bigger in all directions,” Eick says. “Skala” calls upon the services of more musicians – including, at times, two drummers - and there is more detail in the arrangements. What hasn’t changed is the emphasis on the lyrical soloist at the centre of the production. Eick’s elegant trumpet now has a larger space in which to sing.
“Skala” pools new and older compositions, all written by Mathias, and inspired, he says, by music from classical to pop. The title tune is one that the trumpeter says has been following him “for many years”, its network of inspirations including Sting’s 1993 song “Shape of My Heart”. “Edinburgh” was written in the Scottish city, but draws inspiration from Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and the plaintive cry of Jan Garbarek’s sax.
Eick describes “June” as “a light and peaceful song,
a reminiscence of summer days”. The piece incorporates the harp of classical player Sidsel Walstad, currently of the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra.
“Oslo”, the album’s most propulsive tune, is a “song of the city. It’s a groove-directed piece.” It also “brings the idea of the two drummers into play. It sets them loose.” The piece also includes significant contributions from keyboardist Morten Qvenild, best known for his work with singer Susanna Wallumrød. “Joni” is, of course, for Joni Mitchell, whose work Eick has long admired. “Biermann” is named after the Oslo house that Eick rents, a place once owned by German merchant J. F. Biermann, back in the 19th century. “The Day After” references the 1970s, and is influenced by sources as diverse as the Jarrett/Garbarek ‘Belonging’ collaboration and the pounding rock piano of Elton John. “Epilogue” develops “from the simple idea of softness meeting raw energy”, as Mathias’s tender trumpet soliloquy gives way to typhoon-strength drumming from Torstein Lofthus.