The title of Swedish tenor saxophonist Fredrik Norström's latest album suggests that the music was arranged On Purpose,
so we won?t argue the point even though much of it sounds (to our ears, at least) more unpremeditated than purposeful. Well, perhaps that's a slight exaggeration. Nordström and his colleagues have talent, there's no doubt about that, and they obviously believe in what they are doing. The basic elements of Jazz melody, harmony, rhythm are firmly in place but this is a case in which the whole seems far less stimulating than the parts. A matter of opinion, of course. Some may find the clanging, banging, screeching, honking and other digressions eminently enjoyable. They simply leave us cold. Drummer Fredrik Rundqvist is nothing if not assertive. In fact, there are times (many of them) when one would swear it was his gig with the others merely sitting in. On the other hand, he can play tastefully (and quietly), as evidenced on the slower numbers ("True Brew," "Awakening," "Vivo"). In fact, the slower the tempo the more likable the group becomes. One of the problems we have with the enterprise is that there are scarcely any moments of inspired improvisation (another personal opinion). Another is that the most enchanting number is the last one, the tango "Blondino," which is quite well-played with an impressive statement from vibraphonist Mattias Ståhl and trustworthy timekeeping by Rundqvist and bassist Filip Augustson who is sturdy throughout. When push comes to shove, however, there's far too much vacuous posturing to suit our tastes, and we can't recommend the album to others, at least not On Purpose.
Contact: STIM / Svensk Musik (Swedish Music Center), Box 27327, SE-102 54, Stockholm, Sweden. Phone +46 8 783 88 00. E-mail email@example.com; web site, www.mic.stim.se