Vidar Johansen and Lonely Woman are a jazz quintet from Norway with an impressive resume. Having played with artists as stylistically diverse as Van Morrison, Roscoe Mitchell and Dizzy Gillespie, these musicians have each developed their own appeal. Although they tend toward progressive, they still maintain their strong connection to traditional, straight-ahead jazz. Demons’ Diversions is the group’s second release, but first studio recording. This original work was commissioned by the Norwegian Arts Council and written and arranged by Johansen.
The overall sound of the CD is rich and full, and although collectively could be considered a single work ("Ending" repeats the lead-in, "Part #1) each track - like the artists, themselves - retains a uniqueness that separates it from the next. The impeccable accents throughout serve to highlight the many changing moods. Tine Asmundsen provides a powerful bass solo in "Part#1" that absolutely sets the solar plexus vibrating. The piano work of Rune Klakegg, especially on "Krom" and "Dangerous Happiness," is also notable. The relationship created between Johansen and Nikolaisen on their respective instruments is sometimes tense, sometimes chatty and playful and sometimes bursting and buzzing with fire, but always alive and fresh. Svein Crisiansen on drums also pops in with a few snappy zingers here and there. "Obs Blufs" is a deep, warm, enveloping cascade that bubbles and boils with sultry percussion throughout.
From smooth and cool to steamy-hot and pulsating, this disc offers listeners a moving, flowing, vibrant exchange of ideas and ingenuity, while not straying too far from traditional style elements. The horns on this disc are striking and mark the tone of the music throughout. Johansen and the quintet have produced a true winner spurred on by the Norwegian Arts Council. For more information about Norwegian Jazz visit: www.jazzbasen.no/index_eng.html.