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Exploding Customer - At Tampere Jazz Happening

Michael Rosenstein, Signal To Noise

The Swedish quartet Exploding Customer made quite a splash a few years back with their debut release Live at the Glenn Miller Café on Ayler records. On that recording, they showed a penchant for tearing into searing post-bop post-anchored in a roiling, polyrhythmic swing tinged with an Ayleresque freedom.
This follow-up, recorded in the fall of 2004 at the Finnish festival Tampere Jazz Happening, finds reed player Martin Küchen, trumpet player Tomas Hallonsten, bassist Benjamin Quigley, and drummer Kjell Nordeson, picking up on the promise shown on the first release. Küchen provides the tunes again, and the four surf the edges of tight ensemble interaction and probing freedom. There are equal elements of dancing folk music, simmering hard bop, kwela groove, and spitting fire music at play.
And the four pull all of this together with élan, clearly getting as much of a charge out of the set as the jubilant audience.
Those more familiar with Küchen from his micro-nuanced solos or duos with David Stackenäs are in for a surprise here. In this context he plays with brawny, keening cries which build off the simple song-like themes.
Hallonsten is a fine foil, his trumpet jumping the full range, from full, bright, brassy attack to warm, muted color.
Bassist Quigley and drummer Nordeson are just the powerhouse team you need for music like this. Quigley's resonant bass rings out as his fingers fly up and down the neck of his bass. He pushes the music with just the right muscle, providing a flexible but unwavering momentum.
Nordeson has honed his chops over the last few decades, most notably as a member of the Aaly Trio, and knows how to drive the improvisations with a dynamic balance of swing and freedom.
With most tunes coming in at around the 4 to 7-minute range, the quartet keeps their playing pared down and direct while still allowing plenty of room for ripping solos all around. It is clear that this is a band to see live so thanks go out to Ayler Records for capturing them in their element yet again.