|Seven is the third recorded collaboration between Vandermark and Nilssen-Love, following Dual Pleasure (2002) and Dual Pleasure 2 (2004), both on Smalltown Supersound. It's the most concise to date in the series, running to only three tracks and 44 minutes playing time. The album was recorded live at the duo's home base, the Blå club in Oslo, on April 1, 2005. As is to be hoped with such excellent players, the session finds both in top form, with a constant sense of urgency, passion and adventure, and with plenty to say.
The opening track, “First Hit, Second Fall” (26 minutes long), alternates between condensed, fiery interplay and more abstract passages where the duo investigate the myriads of tones and timbres of instruments. Nilssen-Love enjoys twisting time patterns, and he manages to push Vandermark into stratospheric flights even when he's only playing his cymbals. Vandermark erupts with ideas and his charged playing keeps the music fresh and surprising.
The fourteen-minute piece “Open Too Close” is a muscular, sometimes even brutal tour-de-force in the great tradition of saxophone/drums duos created by John Coltrane and Rashied Ali. Experiencing such boundless energy can leave the listener breathless (but satisfied). Vandermark usually finishes his concerts with a short piece on his clarinet, and this album's closing track, “Universal Funeral,” is one of those—but Nilssen-Love decorates the mournful theme with metallic background noises that deny any possibility of accepting the piece as a simple elegy.
Seven is dedicated to the late Norwegian bass player Bjørnar Andresen, one of the icons of the Norwegian jazz community, who passed away three weeks after the Crimetime Orchestra's last recording session. Vandermark and Nilssen-Love prove yet again that they can create a very expressive painting, full of different colors and textures, and one that is fresh and relevant. AAJ