Recorded at Tøyen Kirke, a church in the older part of Oslo, this intensely melodic album provides overdue documentation of a duo that already has a 13-year history. Subtitled simply “Songs for saxophone and piano”, it quietly covers a lot of territory. Andreas Utnem speaks of “improvised church music” – with repertoire including new musical settings of parts of the Mass – as a central focus, and we also find here folk songs, theatre music, freely-created pieces, and a new version of Seim’s softly-breathing meditation “Bhavana” (first heard on “Different Rivers”).
Around 1997, liturgical composer Utnem, then working with Norway’s Church City Mission foundation, invited saxophonist Seim to join him for selected services, and the two musicians improvised around variations on the psalms. “We also played some of Andreas’s compositions and some of mine as well,” Seim recalls. These early meetings soon led to an informal semi-regular ‘gig’ and in 2008 the players decided to record some of the music they had shaped along the way.
“Andreas’s background is quite different from my own,” Seim notes, “but there is something about his composing that brings out a ‘focusing’ quality in my playing. Over time we’ve arrived at a special simplicity and clarity in the music which pleases me very much.”