Bobo Stenson Trio: Cantando (2008)
Cantando continues Stenson's twenty-year relationship with Anders Jormin. A virtuosic player with remarkable extended techniques, his relationship with Stenson has always been that of an equalhis singing double-bass as much a factor in defining the trio's unique complexion as Stenson's own ability to bring unerring lyricism to even the most open-ended context. Jormin has also been responsible for introducing compelling material, including that of Cuban singer/composer Silvio Rodriguez, whose "Olivia" opens Cantando with the perfect combination of melodic resonance and liberal interpretation. Like Stenson, Jormin never loses sight of the essence of the material, but he approaches it with pliant unpredictabilityoften teetering on the edge of a precipice, but with enough counterbalance to ensure neither he nor Stenson ever tumble headlong into it.
What makes Cantando another milestone like Serenity is the introduction of Jon Fält, a young drummer who has been playing with Stenson for the past few years but who makes his ECM debut here. Still shy of 30, Fält's no less a colorist than Motian or Christensen, but he brings a refreshing directness to the music. Capable of sublime implication on the two haunting versions of Czech composer Petr Eben's "Song Of Ruth," he balances delicate touch with greater assertion on Jormin's more outgoing "Wooden Church" while bringing nuanced pulse to the bassist's equally thematic "M." He may lack the benefit of Stenson and Jormin's many years together, but the profound chemistry is undeniable as he brings new energy to the trio, encouraging his trio mates to play with a vitality not heard since War Orphans (ECM, 1998), even as they all approach the music with more thoughtful abandon.
The choice of material ranges from Ornette Coleman's rarely covered "A Fixed Goal" to an extemporaneous look at classical composer Alban Berg's dark-hued "Liebesode." But "Pages" is Cantando's most revealing track. A fourteen-minute spontaneous composition, itself culled from four separate improvs pieced together by producer Manfred Eicher, it demonstrates just how organically Stenson, Jormin and Fält can pull form out of the ether. It's the first time Stenson has included such an extended free piece on record, making Cantando one of the pianist's best by building on past accomplishments while demonstrating newfound potential, greater diversity and unforeseen energy.
Track Listing: Olivia; Song of Ruth; Wooden Church; M; Chiquilin de Bachin; Pages; Don's Corapiece; A Fixed Goal; Love I've Found You; Liebesode; Song of Ruth
Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Jon Fält: drums.
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Modern Jazz