Prior to discovering this album, I had never heard Ole Oddlokken, and by the end of the album, I was curious why it had taken me so long to stumble upon him. Oddlokken made it clear in the first few songs that "The Home Office Sessions" was not like other saxophone-based jazz albums. In this album, Oddlokken has taken things in a new direction featuring elements from hip hop, rock, funk, psychedelia, and modern jazz to create a sound completely unique to him.
Oddlokken is a Saxophonist that grew up in Lillehammer Norway. At age 10, he first picked up the saxophone and started playing in school bands, orchestras, and big bands. Now, he's been playing professionally in New Orleans for 28 years in bands like The Lilli Lewis Project, Will Vance and the Kinfolk, and the funk band Noisewater. In 2020, Oddlokken traveled back to Norway for the first time in 15 years to visit his mother just prior to the dawn of the COVID pandemic. Two weeks later, his mother passed away from cancer, and due to COVID lockdowns he was unable to attend her funeral. As a way of processing the loss of his mother, his trip to Norway, and the onset of COVID, Oddlokken began recording The Home Office Sessions featuring local drummers Wade Hymel, Milton Mansfield, and James Clark. On guitar he had Brandon Hotard, Haden Winfried, PHYGMENT (a.k.a Britton Newton), Chad Carlile on piano, percussionist Larry Bradford, and local rapper Da Prophecy. The final track also included spoken word by Nonney Oddlokken, Ole's wife.
What also sets Ole Oddlokken apart from other musicians attempting albums in this vein is the fact that he has mastered the saxophone to the point where he can make these beautiful visions and arrangements actually come to fruition, with the help of a great band. Oddlokken's saxophone playing is great, he has excellent tone, precise articulation, and most importantly, he has soul in his playing. His playing perfectly compliments the setting that the band is creating in the background, and they intertwine in a beautiful way.
The other soloists also fit into the soundscape of the album just as well. On the song "Isolation Days," guitarist Hayden Winfrey takes a ripping solo that features great tones and tasteful phrasing that fits into the song just right. This choice took me by surprise, and I found it exciting to hear such a rocking solo in a song of this feel. It really caught my attention and kept me engaged with the song, leaving me wondering where it would go next.
Finally, I wanted to mention the arrangements of these songs. The songs Oddlokken has written are not easy by any means. For example, the penultimate track "A Picture for Yesterday" has some incredibly difficult chord changes which would prove to be a challenge for most instrumentalists to navigate. It also features some really interesting rhythms that many musicians would find quite taxing, but this band handles it all and more with grace.
The album has everything that one could ask for. It has incredibly skilled musicians that perfectly capture the ideas and feelings of the album, exciting and surprising songs, engaging arrangements, and grooves that just feel good. I think that Oddlokken blew this album out of the park and has created something that listeners will enjoy and remember. I am excited to see what Oddlokken has planned for the future. I hope that includes more albums.