Bugge Wesseltoft – Bugge & Friends

Bugge Wesseltoft "Bugge & Friends"The Norwegian pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, whose solo piano Xmas album “It’s Snowing On My Piano” is the commercially most successful album for the Munich-based ACT Music label, has gathered some of his friends for his latest recording into Bugges Room, his own recording studio in Oslo, and Nublu in New York.

The electronic album which was mixed by Joe Claussell (who also produced it) and Fran Cathcart, goes into light house territory on the opening “Play It” after a slow and intimate start. Ilhan Ersahin plays tenor sax lines over the housey beat with Erik Truffaz adding in on trumpet and a lot of different percussion intruments by Erik Holm.

The unmistakable Claussell, responsible for the rhythm progamming, percussion and toys and effects, is felt throughout the album. The soulful dance number “Do It” features vocals by Torun Eriksen and Bugge playing around with various keyboard sounds, notably Fender Rhodes, but also Moog and a Prophet 5. “Faz It”, a wordplay on the inclusion of trumpet hero Truffaz, opens with Erik’s soft trumpet, the beat chiming in and turning into a modern day Herbie Hancock/Headhunters kind of groove. Miles meets Herbie.

Bugge starts “Breed It” with a beautiful melody on piano and about two minutes into the song, another light percussive programmed groove starts to build this track into a repetitive, meditative cut which runs for almost 12 minutes, never coming to a climax, but rather keeping the mood at mid-tempo, making this the most mesmerizing cut on the album. Singer Beady Belle fronts the esoteric “Make It” which never really comes to a start and has too many stops and turns and the spoken words really don’t make any impression.

“Saisir”, written by Erik Truffaz, is a wonderful Rhodes/trumpet/percussion groover with some compelling lines but then turns into a weird and quirky mélange towards the end. “Clauss It”, a collaborative group composition with all seven members involved (bassist Marius Reksjo and drummer Andreas Bye round out the ensemble), sounds too much like a work-in-progress, and never actually takes off. But I think in total this is a welcome change of sound.

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