Jonas Kullhammar/Goran Kajfes/Johan Berthling/Kjell Nordeson: Nacka Forum (2003)
While a far cry from recent work by Norah Jones, this recording was nominated for a Swedish Grammy, which sheds some light on the differences between American and Swedish tastes. By now most folks know the sweet pop-inflected jazz style of Jones, but probably most have little knowledge of one of her Swedish counterparts.
Nacka Forum is a moderately raw recording that features a quartet composed of sax, trumpet, bass, and drums. The most distinctive aspect of their group sound is it's "New Thing in Jazz" feel. This disk could have easily been issued on the Impulse! label in 1967. If you dig the raw, untrammelled sonorities introduced to the jazz world by the likes of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Han Bennink, Don Cherry, or Frank Wright, you'll find plenty here to feed your soul. Saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar and trumpeter Goran Kajfes must have a serious free jazz record collection at home, because both of them have assimilated the lexicon of that period in the history of jazz quite thoroughly into their playing.
The rollicking drum style of Kjell Nordeson ignites the opening track, "Sauerkraut Rock." The mood of the entire album is established with this initial salvo. The main theme of this tune is based on an ostinato expertly laid down by bassist Johan Berthling, which becomes the primary compositional device used throughout the bulk of the pieces. The use of the ostinato brings a dancing quality and provides a sense of propulsion to the overall feel of the quartet, but eventually this device wears thin.
The ostinato was used to great effect by Steve Lacy in the late '60s, in large part due to the subtle rhythmic shifts his ensembles built into their music. This quality eludes Nacka Forum on every piece the rhythm section is thrusting the beat forward relentlesslyfair enough, but ultimately the music becomes monochromatic and formulaic in nature; not only because of the repetition, but also due to the relationship of the horns to the bass and drums. Every piece seems to be a simple vehicle for the horns to blow ongratifying for the players, but tedious for the listener. Musicians as gifted and intelligent as these fellows are capable of more, and it would be exciting to hear them stretch out into other compositional forms, and to channel their raw power into less comfortable sonic spaces.
All in all, this disk is a mixed bag. It should be of great interest to fans of Coltrane, Ayler, Cherry, or Shepp, but unfortunately limited to that audience due to their reliance to conventional song forms.
Visit Nacka Forum at: www.moserobie.com and to find out more about Swedish Grammy nominees.
Track Listing: Sauerkraut Rock; We Travel The Spaceways; Eleven; Zlatan; Brickjuice; Law Years; Backtalk
Personnel: Kjell Nordeson-drums; Jonas Kullhammar-alto, tenor and bass saxophones; Goran Kajfes-trumpet, flugelhorn and pocket trumpet; Johan Berthling-bass
Record Label: M.M.P
Style: Modern Jazz