Bobo Stenson: A Discography
This is the second installment of Joakim Milder's project to honor the music and memory of Borje Fredriksson, the first being Sister Majs Blouse. Fredriksson was considered one of the brightest and best performer/composers in the Scandinavian jazz scene, but he was easily hurt and committed suicide in 1968 at age 31.
In 1963, at age eighteen, Stenson started his career with Fredriksson. He considers him his mentor, receiving Fredriksson's sheet music after his death. Milder recounts that he was given Fredriksson's only album, "Intervall" when quite young and how it changed his musical outlook and life. Palle Danielsson and Fredrik Noren made up Fredriksson's last rhythm section, so these four men are all uniquely qualified to play this music. This disc includes many previously unrecorded works.
Stylistically wide-ranging, Epilogue includes tunes as different as the extended driving bop piece "Intervall" to the smokey ballad "Master" to the freely expressive "Amandas villa," with tunes like "Blues 55" and "Back Beat Blues" in between. The treat of the album is the three quite different versions of "Epilogue" which is a sketch.
"Epilogue I" opens with exposed, very open piano against deep bass and soft cymbals until Milder comes in with the haunting theme, and time stops. All is shimmering, diaphonous beauty. "Epilogue II" opens with solo bass using a mixture of regular notes and harmonics. The saxophone enters with the theme, sparsely accompanied by Stenson who gradually increases the density of notes as the lamenting tune unfolds in the horn. Milder and Stenson begin to play against each other with counterpoint from Danielsson as again time stops and deep emotions are exposed. The last version, "Epilogue III," which ends the disc, starts in a way similar to "Epilogue II," but Milder comes in quickly and the theme gets played in unison with the piano, which makes it even eerier. This extraordinary music could have been written at any time, not just in the sixties.
Carlsson sings, and very well at that, with a light voice that is under control. An album of romantic songs, the title comes from mixing Miles Davis' "Seven Steps To Heaven" and Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," both of which are included. Stenson plays on the last three tracks, and his touch and harmonic sense are immediately noticeable. Carlsson notes paradoxically that while he knows Stenson well, he always surprises him with a new touch. As an aside, the lyrics to "Footprints" include a recited well-known story about the narrator and God walking on the beach.
Tomasz Stanko Septet
Litania - Music of Krzysztof Komeda
Quoting Stanko from the liner notes: "I play regularly with Bobo Stenson, and he and I both knew he'd play Komeda's tunes even better than he plays mine. I gave Bobo all the archive recordings but what he plays is all his. Often he doesn't even use Komeda's chords." (emphasis mine). The notes also give an idea of the long relationships that exists between the players. Bernt Rosengren was with Komeda before Stanko himself. Christensen goes back with Stenson to the 70s in Garbarek's groups, and Milder and Stenson both count Borje Fredriksson a major influence.
"Svantetic" clearly shows Komeda's compositional method of building from small cells of notes, and "Night-time, Daytime Requiem" (for John Coltrane) shows how Komeda can maintain listener interest within his larger (20 minute) forms. Komeda managed to mix the symphonic with jazz, being free and controlled simultaneously. Since Stanko and Rosengren were with Komeda, and since everyone else has a close relationship, these recordings give a good idea of what the originals sound like.
Leosia is one of the most overlty beautiful and haunting records in the ECM catalogue, and to many represent Tomasz Stanko's high point of creation thus far. Stenson is directly involved with the total sound of the album, and has a direct musical connection with the leader.