Fredrik Lundin’s Choose Your Boots is best described as “rock–Jazz,” generally well–played but encumbered along the way by musically prefabricated special effects and funky rhythms that lend the enterprise a “retro–’70s” ambiance. What it lacks is a clear center of gravity or personality, if you will, that would serve to tie its various ingredients together. Lundin wrote and arranged everything (co–wrote “Agent Ericsson’s Secret Identity” with pianist Jacob Karlzon), so the album represents his musical vision, which, if nothing else, is expansive. The liner notes, such as they are, consist of brief comments by Lundin explaining the rationale behind each of the seven compositions. While they do have underlying themes, they can’t accurately be described as tone poems — more like primitive sketches that have arisen from Lundin’s impressions of certain concepts or events and caused him to put pen to paper. The tune that comes closest, perhaps, to earning the label “tone poem” is the lyrical (and cleverly named) “Beauty and the Slightly Less Handsome” (which contains some of Lundin’s best work on tenor). “Beauty” is followed by “Those Were Happy Days,” which its author describes as an homage to “the joyful and fearless music of the ’70s.” The trombones — Lundin uses four, two tenor, two bass — uphold a large share of the melodic and harmonic structure, as they do on several other numbers. Pulsating rhythms (from somewhere considerably south of Denmark) predominate on “Ladies in Distress,” another vehicle for Lundin’s post–bop tenor (and Krister Jonsson’s full–throated electric guitar). An a cappella trumpet / trombone choir opens “Agent Ericsson,” whose understated theme depicts his day gig “working as a humble clerk in a small provincial bank.” Karlzon takes the first solo, and a dandy one it is, followed by Lundin’s cogent tenor and an encore by the trumpet / trombone section. There’s actually only one trumpeter, Gunnar Halle, who’s featured on “The Long Haul” (“you’ve just passed 30. Your life is losing momentum, things just don’t happen by themselves anymore. Stretching out before you is the long haul of the rest of your life”). Yes, the tune is that bleak, but Halle redeems it in part with some trenchant comments. As I often say about albums like this, it’s not bad but not something I’d run out and buy. Perhaps you would; if so, you needn’t tell ’em Jack sent you.
Contact: Stunt Records, 29 W. Maple Avenue, Bellmawr, NJ 08031 (phone 856–931–6441; fax 856–931–6445. www.sundance.dk
Track Listing: On the Road to Anywhere; The Long Haul; Beauty and the Only Slightly Less Than Handsome; Those Were Happy Days; Som I en Drum (Land of Dreams); Ladies in Distress; Special Agent Ericsson’s Secret Identity (56:57).
Personnel: Fredrik Lundin, composer, arranger, tenor sax, acoustic and electric soprano sax, flute; Gunnar Halle, trumpet; Mia Engsager, Kenneth Agerholm, trombone; Ola Nordquist, bass trombone; Klaus L