The Maggi Olan Band: Live at Fasching (2002)
When a pianist from Sweden can persuade a trumpeter who's as well-respected as Ingrid Jensen to record with her quartet, one must assume that the pianist in question is a rather accomplished player in her own right an assumption that is entirely correct. Maggi Olin is the pianist, and her command of the keyboard is quite impressive, whether comping, soloing or sketching a rhythmic road map. Having said that, we should hasten to add that Olin's compositions and arrangements (she wrote everything on this concert date at Jazz Club Fasching in Stockholm) are not what one would describe as riveting (or, in most cases, even mildly engaging). On the other hand, everything is quite well-played, and there's no evidence of any lack of commitment on anyone's part. Olin is a savvy improviser, as are Jensen and tenor saxophonist Karl-Martin Almqvist, and bassist Mattias Wellin and drummer P-A Tollbom round out an alert and flexible rhythm section. So what we have is a splendidly recorded concert date on which the musicians often eclipse the music. If that sounds more than a little peculiar, perhaps it is. But what we are trying to say is that Olin's compositions, although serviceable, are (to these ears) not much more than modest accessories designed to complement the band's more charismatic wardrobe, the one personified by spontaneity and surprise. This is first and foremost a blowing session, and everyone takes that to heart, dancing around the changes with unwavering poise and intensity. Even though Olin's themes left us cold, others may find them warm and invigorating (composer Maria Schneider, in a brief tribute, calls Olin's music "deeply impressive"). Be that as it may, there's enough earnest ad-libbing by all hands to compensate for almost any weaknesses.
Contact: STIM / Svensk Musik (Swedish Music Center), Box 27327, SE-102 54, Stockholm, Sweden. Phone +46 8 783 88 00. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web sites, www.mic.stim.se; www.prophonerecords.se
Track Listing: Very Late; Burt; Empty; Synnsong; Argbiggan; Nustigo; Mr. Everywhere;
Personnel: Maggi Olin, piano, synth; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet, flugelhorn; Karl-Martin Almqvist, tenor saxophone; Mattias Welin, bass; P-A Tollbom, drums.
Record Label: Prophone Records