In connection with the release of “Enter”, the previous album from Fire! Orchestra, we wrote “it can’t be easy gathering 28 of Northern Europe’s finest jazz and improvising musicians in one place at the same time, which is why Sweden’s Fire! Orchestra has been one of the continent’s best kept secrets so far”. Two years later we can confirm the first part of this, but also add that after fantastic reviews of “Enter” and more touring they are not so much a secret anymore, but very much in demand. Which is the main reason why they have slimmed down the orchestra to a “mere” 21 members for “Ritual” and 18 for the live ensemble. After playing rare shows a handful of times a year, this energetic and dynamic mass ensemble has gone from intimate jazz scenes to the main hall at Molde Jazz Festival and a major stage at the prestigious Roskilde Festival.
As brilliant as “Enter” is, with “Ritual” they have outdone themselves and produced a beast of beauty and power, extremely well executed, beautifully recorded and produced from only two days in the studio. Free improvisations, spontaneous horns, keyboard frenzy, abstract electronics, guitar mayhem and not to forget; those glorious twin voices from heaven… and hell. It´s about mysteries and rituals; in music and in life. Fire! originated as the trio of Swedish improv masters Mats Gusfasson (sax), Johan Berthling (bass) and Andreas Werliin (drums). None of them are what you could call jazz purists; they all play in many different groups and contexts, including The Thing (Gustafsson), experimental folk-electronica outfit Tape (Berthling), and skewed blues-pop unit Wildbirds & Peacedrums (Werliin). Those important singers Sofia Jernberg and Mariam Wallentin have been on board since the beginning, the same goes for horn players Niklas Barnö, Jonas Kullhammar, Mats Äleklint, Per Åke Holmlander and Anna Högberg. Basically a Swedish ensemble, the orchestra also counts Norwegian, Danish and French players.
Members of Fire! Orchestra share a wide background, combining jazz, improvised music, contemporary music, rock, garage, psych, and what have you. As they proclaim on their site: “Please make up your own genre and mind – listen freely – don´t buy our labeling attempts… labeling sucks”. A sentiment that basically sums up Rune Grammofon as well, so we couldn’t agree more.
Ritual, part 1-5