Contemplation is the latest offering from indie Danish label Cowbell Music. On this compilation, saxophonist Benjamin Koppel and bassist Thommy Andersson once again team up to create an all-star quintet to take listeners on a trip through the expression of free jazz. Pioneered in the 1950s and 1960s, free jazz is usually characterized as being experimental as the jazz practitioners seek to transform and even shatter the known and accepted conventions of jazz. In keeping with the atypical nature of free jazz and this innovative quintet, Koppel features the tubax, a hybrid of the tuba and baritone saxophone, on several selections.
The tubax’s sound is vibrant and Koppel boldly infuses it into the heart of his "in the moment" improvisations. Along for the ride on this outing is pianist Paul Bley, a veteran innovator of free jazz that has recorded and held his own among other free jazz musicians such as Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus. Also joining the group is accomplished percussionist Marilyn Mazur. Mazur is a seasoned bandleader and composer in her own right, and lends that experience to write one selection on Contemplation and co-write two others with Koppel and Andersson. Rounding out the quintet is relative newcomer Peter Nilsson on drums. Nilsson comes to the quintet as a musical "jack of all trades" with fluency in just as many genres. The resulting selections on Contemplation are 17 tracks of entirely free jazz created impromptu by five artists that bridge, bend and blur jazz archetypes into their own interpretation of what jazz is and is not.