The last time I heard tenor saxophonist Magnus Lindgren on record, he was scampering through a straight-ahead gig with the Swedish Radio Jazz Group at Jazzclub Fasching in Stockholm (Paradise Open Caprice, 2001). But to Lindgren, jazz transcends stereotyping, and it should be as much at home in an amphitheatre or opera house as it is in nightclubs or jam sessions. Ever since he heard Bill Evans playing with a symphony orchestra, Lindgren writes, "I have been longing to do this kind of project that is, to write for and perform with a large, string-laden symphonic ensemble, which is what he has done with Music for the Neighbours, on which his quartet is accompanied by the Malmö Opera Orchestra.
Even though this is jazz for white tie and tails, it is not lacking in heat or passion, thanks in part to Lindgren's colorful charts, which make good use of the ample musical resources at his disposal. While Lindgren's expressive tenor is prominently featured, as it should be, it is hardly dominant, acceding at times to the lush orchestral passages and strong reinforcement from vocalist Rigmor Gustafsson ("Delion, "Sunny People"), pianist Matthias Algotsson ("My Bridge ), drummers Jonas Holgersson and Magnus Persson (the aptly named "Double Drummer ) and bassist Fredrik Jonsson ("Sunny People"). Lindgren plays flute on "People, tenor and flute on the rhythmic "Movements from Stockholm, clarinet on the ruminative and delightful "Vienna Calls. The concert's bonus track, "Holyem, is a sumptuous ballad on which Lindgren's radiant tenor and Gustafsson's wordless vocal complement perfectly the rich orchestral harmonies.
The album was recorded live at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The overall sound is quite respectable, but pianist Algotsson is somewhat over-recorded on "Bridge. As a bonus, the disc is two-sided, with a DVD of the concert on Side B that includes one extra track, "Six Stories. As noted, Music for Neighbours is symphonic jazz, far removed from the turbulence and spontaneity that one usually associates with big bands. On the other hand, it is well-written, wonderfully performed and invariably engaging.
Track Listing: Delion; Megeve; My Bridge; Double Drummer; Sunny People; Vienna Calls; Movements from Stockholm (56:26). Holyem; Six Stories (DVD only).
Personnel: Magnus Lindgren Quartet: Magnus Lindgren: saxophones, flute, clarinet; Mathias
Algotsson: piano; Fredrik Jonsson: bass; Jonas Holgersson: drums. Guests: Rigmor
Gustafsson: vocals; Magnus Persson: percussion. With the Malmö Opera Orchestra:
Per-Ola Nilsson: music director; Franciszek Lejczak, Andreas Hagman, Viktoria Bentzel-
Axell, Anna Blomkvist, Tomas Gunnarsson, Jolanta Mazurek, Anna-Karin Vikström-
Nilsson, Johanna Andersson, Kanerva Juutilainen, Jens Solgaard: violin 1; Per Modin, Irina
Binder, Maj Kullberg, Urban Borg, Maria Rodrick, Torsten Hedlund, Susanne Holmsrom,
Hanna Ydmark: violin 2; Stanislav Popov, Asa Weiler, Erik Ring, Michael Leifer, Roxana
Santa, Martin Ranefalk: viola; Nils Rigeblad, Johan Theorin, Emma Samuelsson, John
Löfgren: cello; Magnus Dagerhem, Robert Sonne: double bass; Karin Lindström, Kristin
Ormstad: flute; Karin Nanne-Larsen, Maria Uhrenfeldt: oboe; Anders Åberg, Thomas
Lander: clarinet; Hugo Langéen, Linda Vistam: bassoon; Bo Demant, Andreas Pettersson,
Rolf Nygärd, Hans Svensson: horn; Garry Nilsmyr, Jonas Wiik: trumpet; Gunnar Eneroth,
Lars Carlsson-Zeppezauer: trombone; Nicklas Holmberg, Thomas Rodrick: percussion;
Marie Åström: harp.