Album Review: After Us from Elsa Nilsson and Jon Cowherd
Label: Bumblebee Collective
Swedish/American flutist and composer Elsa Nilsson plays notes with a freehand style. Her flute moves in arbitrary circles, unscripted undulations, and random spirals, emoting a freedom that is intellectually stimulating and melodically sounding. Joining Nilsson on her latest CD After Us is pianist Jon Cowherd who adds another layer, another voice to the compositions. Guided by their natural reflexes, Nilsson and Cowherd take their music where it wants to go as the pair communicate raw emotions and human thoughts channeled into the dialogue of their instruments. Their collaborations are deeply personal, expressing their innermost feelings into their music.
The lines that separate classical music from jazz, blues, and sonic pop are blurred on After Us as the duo crisscross genres, injecting elements of each into their compositions. The bluesy mood of the flute in “How To Keep Moving, How To Stay” is complemented by the rambling musings of the keys, infusing jazz-imbued features into the track. The heaviness of the notes gives the music a serious tone, emitting a classical music aura.
The cheery disposition of Nilsson’s flute roaming casually along “Crimson” flaps and flutters in conjunction with the palpitating keys. “With a Smile” changes course, focusing on the whining apparitions formed by the flute as the keys draw delicate silhouettes in the air. Mellow and sparse, “Blessings” is a graceful soliloquy of feathery notes, moving randomly into a delightful banter that is aurally attractive. The lithesome tone driving “Practice Patience” has a whimsical flicker, which is carried into the title track moving with the ease of the human breath.
Based in New York City, Nilsson and Cowherd create a musical tapestry that permeates sonic beauty and pleasurable jaunts. The pair produce serene atmospheres that combine several musical elements, fused into sheer refinement.
Elsa Nilsson: flute, alto flute, bass Flute
Jon Cowherd: piano