London Odense Ensemble is the music collective consisting of Jonas Munk, Jakob Skott, Tamar Osborn, Martin Rude, and Al McSween. If you’re familiar with their 2022 album Jaiyede Sessions Vol. 1, then you probably already know that. But let me fill you in or remind you of where all these cats come from.
Munk, Skott, and Rude are long time collaborators, with Causa Sui, Sun River, and Rude and Skott taking their own musical trips together. Tamar Osborn is a multi-wind instrumentalist, saxophonist, and composer in her own right. She also plays in modal jazz ensemble Collocutor(also check out Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra for some serious, heady vibes.) Osborn also plays in the Rude Skott Osborn Trio. And Al McSween is the keyboard player and founding member of Kefaya, as well as collaborating with a who’s who of next level musicians throughout his career.
Jaiyede Sessions Vol. 1 was a masterful trip into early 70s fusion interspersed with cosmic swirls of psychedelia and free form jazz excursions. It put me in mind of the best of the Mwandishi-era Hancock, while still keeping things earthbound and organic with woodwinds and groovve-heavy rhythms.
On Jaiyede Sessions Vol. 2 the London Odense Ensemble has expanded the boundaries musically and psychically, combining the mysterious and the spiritual. Groove is still God here, but there’s moments of chaos interspersed throughout; quiet beauty, mind-expanding tomes, and heady jazz that goes from Electric Miles to Out There Dolphy in the blink of a groove.
London Odense Ensemble waste no time in Vol. 2. “Phantasma” is glorious. There’s the seductive flute, the Brazilian flavor in the rhythm, and sparse keys that add a touch of cosmic glue to the proceedings. When I first began exploring the headier sides of late 60s/early 70s jazz(yes, in-particular buying Bitches Brew on vinyl and losing my mind) this was the sound, flavor, and spirit that pulled me in. London Odense Ensemble have taken that intellectual spirit and turned it into something visceral and all-encompassing. “Reflective Shapes” is dark and foreboding with its head bopping groove and wonky synth, but the song spreads its wings and takes flight once Osborn’s flute comes in. I’m sure there’s guitar in there, but it’s hard to discern Munk’s six string from the sonic gumbo going on here. “Flux” is an absolute freakout; chaos encapsulated in electric piano, woodwinds, and Miles at his LSD heights.
“Casper’s Green” is the single and is groovy as hell. Funky drums and fuzz-tone bass bring us in with some seriously far-out keys courtesy of Mr. McSween. If you have a pulse then you’re gonna move to this. The late great Marc Moulin would be proud. “Current Analysis” sounds like deep space meditation with Tamar’s saxophone droning more than swinging. I’m imagining sitting on the moon in meditation as this plays, letting thoughts pass through as the Milky Way expands and retracts. “Desert Star Leaf” flows effortlessly, bringing together touches of NEU!, Meddle-era Floyd, and Causa Sui’s own Summer Sessions trips. “Flodbio” showcases that Munk guitar jangle with a low down groove as the band fills in around it. Possibly the most straight forward track, and the last one. Feels like the perfect end to this heady and wild trip.
This album is special. Where London Odense Ensemble established a groove and feel as a band with Jaiyede Sessions Vol. 1, Vol. 2 shows them comfortable enough to make the kind of music that moves the mind forward. They’re not afraid to go dreamy, chaotic, and absolutely far out…sometimes in the same song. They’re cool with getting a little weird here and we’re the better for it. The results are some of the best coming together of jazz, fusion, and rock music I’ve heard in years. Strap in and take off.