Bobo Stenson: A Discography
Sister Majs Blouse is the first of two releases by this quartet of players deeply affected by Frediksson. Go to Epilogue for their intertwined histories. The title tune refers to a nurse who was very important to Frediksson during his last days, and is a mournful blues on which Stenson plays a few choruses after Milder plays some of the saddest jazz blues you ever heard. Together, the tunes span a range of styles that show Freriksson's broad music taste.
From "Mahatma" that evokes "Night in Tunisia" until it veers away to the absolutely gorgeous "Ballad for Laila," and on to the folk music influenced "Brollopsvals," Fredriksson's music is timeless and can easily fit into today's esthetic. One of the most highly regarded young musicians of his time, he has influenced many, including this quartet, down to the present day.
Lloyd has a slightly softer tone than elsewhere on "Requiem" and Stenson answers his opening plaintive solo his own very solidly built solo that takes the middle third of the eight-minute track. Lloyd's usual techniques are on display, and his way of sounding as if he is wandering while negotiating the harmony is immediately noticeable. "Sister" has a similar mood and structure, but the track is lifted by Stenson who is showing how well he adapts himself to the needs of the music at hand.
The two part "Pilgrimage to the Mountain" (part 1 is "Persevere" and part 2 is "Surrender") is split between track three and track eight. Jormin introduces the tune with one of his trademark harmonic solos, and when Lloyd comes in the sky opens up and we see the mountain in the distance. The music has extreme spiritual overtones, linking the earth with the sky, and Stenson immeasurably helps create the mood. "Surrender" starts with the same eerie playing of Jormin who continues under Lloyd's entrance while Stenson helps create the sense of floating in the open air.
In between these two tone poems are the lighter "Sam Song," a haunting "Takur" in which Jormin again does his beautiful harmonics. "Monk in Paris" on which Lloyd again uses a softer, more playful tone even when he is running fast arpeggios, finds Stenson playing another perfect solo andd finally "When Miss Jessye Sings" which has an opening motive that very strongly resembles Coltrane, but which quickly moves beyond it, with more concentrated Stenson.
Notes From Big Sur is a very introspective album, even by Lloyd's standards, but contains some of Stenson's finest playing with Lloyd.
This is the studio version of the band in Live at Visiones and which contains three of the five tracks on that record. The emphasis in the playing is, of course, different between live where total spontaneity and surprise is optimal, and studio, where the same thing is desired, but more controlled with an eye towards the recording.
Liebman is quite wonderful, displaying a freedom with a structure that is enthralling. He almost splits the composing duties with Danielsson, and the two men create music for the band rather than individual compositions played by the band. The quartet really has four soloists, with Liebman being the only, one, naturally, dropping out when not playing. The remaining trio blends their individuality to become a unit, with each arising to the surface. Stenson is a supremely confident accompanist, either when comping or playing filling phrases. In, "Suite" he gets the most time to solo, and makes the most of it, playing with drive and fire.
Hakan Brostrom plays soprano and tenor saxophone (alto and tenor on Celestial Nights) and is quite lithe on them all, but especially the higher two. He writes well-crafted melodies that provide able ground for not only his always inventive solos, but for the imagination of his band. While remaining solidly mainstream, the angular melodies that take surprising turns and which are supported by different and unpredictable harmony provide a deep listening experience.
Stenson again shows his adaptability by playing within the vibe set up by Brostrom and, while adding his own musical thoughts to the mix, does not go farther than asked while pushing the music forward. Kjellberg (who also plays on Dona Nostra) and Spering provide a supple and bubbling underpinning, seeming to keep the group floating in air. Schultz seems to make his first appearance (on acoustic guitar) in the longest track, "Who's Coming" (written while Brostrom and his wife were expecting their first child), but later adds some burning electric, distorted guitar sounds in "On The Edge." A delightful record all around.