With a few weeks of delay with respect to the official release date, I came across this masterpiece from Swedish electric bass guitarist Björn Meyer. And it was love at first sight. In this regard it should be said that last year I judged as the best jazz album of the year the beautiful American Elm by Janek Gwizdala, which basically shares the same approach of Meyer’s record: a collection of fabulous solo pieces for electric bass and very few other contour elements.
The technique used by Meyer for his new album Provenance is very special: by playing his six-strings bass only in the highest regions of the instrument’s dynamics, the artist manages to produce a lighter sound, very similar to that of an electric guitar, but with a substance and a body which result definitely denser and more stratified. And with the addition of a few electrical touches and some effects like reverberation, the result is complete: in front of us magical worlds unfold thanks to the wise touch of this great musician.
Provenance is one of those albums that reject tags and labels. “Jazz” or “meditiative music” become simple attributes of a music that assumes mystical and universal contours. There is no need to wonder what kind of music you hearing when such a pure sound and these poetic melodies come before you. You just have to enjoy it, and be transported into the realms of magic.
Provenance was released by ECM on late September 2017.
The album was recorded in an highly responsive auditorium in Lugano, and this aspect had a big influence on the final result as specified by Meyer: “Even though the instrument is technically non-acoustic, the music is deeply influenced by the properties of the space where it is played. The many different ways in which acoustics affect my compositions and improvisations have always been sources of surprise and inspiration. There is definitely a second member in this solo project – the room!”