A striking musical rapport between Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje is palpable in the duo’s quietly lyrical investigations on Touch of Time. These are delicate melodies and textures, flowing between two musicians, who are deeply in tune with nuances of tone-shadings and the detailed development of a musical idea. In both freely improvised forms and carefully wrought themes, their instruments connect gracefully, picking up and finishing each other’s phrases. Touch of Time, recorded in January 2023 at the Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano, was produced by Manfred Eicher.
ARVE HENRIKSEN, HARMEN FRAANJE / TOUCH OF TIME ECM2794
Arve Henriksen and Harmen Fraanje are at the helm of the contemporary improvised scene on their respective instruments and Touch of Time, the duo’s debut, is exemplary of their uncanny sensibility for each other’s timbre, phrasing and melodic approach. A striking musical rapport between the Norwegian trumpeter and Dutch pianist is palpable throughout these quietly lyrical investigations. In both freely improvised forms and carefully wrought themes, their instruments connect gracefully, picking up and finishing each other’s sentences.
Initiated in light of ECM’s 50th anniversary celebrations at the 2019 Transition Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands, where the duo first met and performed a captivating improvised set, the collaboration between Harmen and Arve has since morphed into a fruitful partnership, where the players are able to riff off each other’s ideas seamlessly and in-the-moment. Harmen: “With Arve, from the beginning it felt so easy to find each other in the music, to follow the flow, to feel the direction of the melody, and to sense the emerging harmonies. After that very first concert we immediately realized we should continue performing together – and a new duo was born.”
Where that first occasion was freely improvised, on Touch of Time the duo also introduces prepared melodies and progressions into the mix, as extended vehicles for the musicians’ soft-spoken interplay. “Redream”, “What All This Is” and the title track are such frameworks – penned by Harmen – and point to the contemplative, concentrated character of the album, revealing both chorale-like cadences and stream-of-consciousness melodic development.
Arve and Harmen: “We consider Touch of Time to be exactly where we meet in music. Although there are solid structures within these pieces, we form the material very freely, as a holistic process, rather than a static approach borne from preconception.” The music was shaped together with Manfred Eicher, who produced the album, recorded at the Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano in early 2023.
Harmen Fraanje, born in Roosendaal, Netherlands in 1976, has appeared on ECM as part of Mats Eilertsen’s Rubicon band as well as the bassist’s trio recording And then Comes The Night. Besides his participation in Eilertsen’s groups, Fraanje is part of the trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla and since 2019 frequently collaborates with Arve Henriksen.
Arve Henriksen was born in Stranda, Norway in 1968 and began playing and recording internationally in 1989. He first recorded for ECM with Christian Wallumrød trio on No Birch (1998) and has since regularly appeared on the label as both sideman and leader, including on albums by Tigran Hamsyan, Jon Balke, Trygve Seim, Arild Andersen, Sinikka Langeland and Frode Hailti. Down Beat called his ECM leader-date Cartography (2010) “ethereal ambient music created with a painterly touch and marked by a fine melodic sensibility”. Most recently, Henriksen could be heard alongside Jakob Bro and Jorge Rossy on Uma Elmo (2022).