Putte Wickman: Simple Isn't Easy (1998)
Their encounter is documented on the first five tracks of Simple Isn't Easy. They get to know one another in a delightfully unconventional reading of the ballad "Who Can I Turn To?" before continuing in devastatingly inventive form. No more so than on Red Mitchell's "Simple Isn't Easy," with Kellaway dropping passing references to stride and ragtime before a stunning free section, in which he and Wickman achieve almost telepathic empathy. In an interview with the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in 2003, Wickman, a man not given to exaggeration, described Kellaway's playing as "unbelievable...unique." Much the same might be said of his own.
After such dizzying heights, it comes almost as a relief to hear Wickman in more conventional guise on four tracks recorded at the 1994 festival, when his Swedish accompanists are far more subdued than LA's ebullient Kellaway; reverent, even, as well they should be.
Wickman's death in 2006 left a huge, gaping hole in the Swedish musical scene. While he flirted with other genres (classical concerts in churches and glitzy showbiz extravaganzas on primetime TV), in the right company, this man would push jazz, his true art, to almost stratospheric levels of excellence. This album is a fitting and long overdue memorial to that side of his musical personality.
Track Listing: Who Can I Turn To? There'll Never Be Another You; Simple Isn't Easy; Emily; Just Friends; Old Folks; Like Someone In Love; How High The Moon; Days of Wine and Roses.
Personnel: Putte Wickman: clarinet; Roger Kellaway: piano (1-5); Gosta Rundqvist: piano (6-9); Dan Berglund: bass (6-9); Petur Ostlund: drums (6-9).
Record Label: Proprius
Style: Modern Jazz