OTOOTO ‘This Love is for You’ LP/CD (April) 5/5

The highly anticipated debut full-length release from OTOOTO, ‘This Love is For You’, finds its home on the boundless hub of inspiration that is April Records.

And OTOOTO is very much an exciting fit for April – a record label with a wide-spanning appreciation for innovative Danish talent who have had a fantastic run of recent releases from the haunting beauty of saxophonist Cecilie Strange’s ‘Blikan’, the projects by innovative piano trio Little North and the eclectic pop sensibilities of Kalaha’s ‘Mystafa’. The OTOOTO quintet look poised to carry on in that vein of ambitious and distinctive contributions to April’s riveting roster.

OTOOTO is comprised of members saxophonist Oilly Wallace, trumpeter Jonas Due, Matthias Petry on bass, Calle Brickman on keys and Andreas Svendsen on drums. Although a tight-knit quintet consisting of incredibly talented young Danish musicians, it is Wallace and Due who act as the nucleus of OTOOTO. As founding members and responsible for the project’s compositions, OTOOTO is a fascinating meeting of the minds of these two shining lights from Danish jazz.

With Wallace’s burgeoning career seeing his talents – and his saxophone – attached to numerous projects including his own Oilly Wallace Quartet, Guiding Star Orchestra, Kathrine Windfeld Big Band and Anders Fjeldsted Sextet, as well as supporting numerous projects including appearances on Quadron vocalist Coco O’s debut solo album ‘It’s A Process’. A seasoned live performer, trumpeter Due has toured extensively across Europe and the US and can also boast work with various collectives to his resume including Be-Bike-Sun-Tree, Mads Nørregård Outlet and Jazzkollektivet.

Through their numerous projects, both Wallace and Due display their expansive styles and disciplines across the ever-broadening scope of contemporary jazz. From big band projects to the avant-garde to improvisational collectives, Wallace and Due also each share a strong penchant for the infectious groove-based, neo-soul stylings that adorn the music throughout ‘This Love is For You’. From the lush slow-build of the album opener, ‘Dissolving Parts’, which eventually leads into a blissful synth backdrop – aided in large part by the inclusion of guest Christian Balvig – to other fantastic highlights like ‘0 to 1’ and ‘Mayday Greyday’, the aforementioned neo-soul aesthetic is really punctuated by some inspired interplay between Calle Brickman’s work on the keys and the sublimely understated horns throughout. While many of the songs excel within this mid-tempo groove, ‘Hekea’ delivers its own highlight as one of the album’s ballads which is a beautifully composed song.

With the extensive list of projects that Wallace and Due continue to find themselves as contributors to, there’s no doubt that their talents will see their respective lists grow exponentially but hopefully, they will still find time to follow up this awesome release with more OTOOTO in the future.

Imran Mirza