Bernt Rosengren: I'm Flying (2009)
If the name Bernt Rosengren doesn't ring a bell, it probably would if you lived in Sweden. Rosengren, an unabashed champion of such implacable hard-boppers as Gene Ammons, Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin, has been one of that country's leading tenor saxophonists for more than half a century, and as his latest CD affirms, he's still flying high.
On this quartet date, Rosengren tests his mettle by surrounding himself with members of the younger generationpianist Stefan Gustafson, bassist Hans Backenroth and drummer Bengt Starkeach of whom lends the leader unwavering support and solos with perception and poise. Rosengren, for his part, is a model of elegance and consistency, inspiring his companions without stealing their thunder. Together they comprise a tight-knit and consistently engaging foursome.
Besides blowing superbly, Rosengren wrote seven of the album's twelve selections (including five of the first six). The others are Victor Young's "Delilah," Rodgers and Hart's "Where or When," Irving Berlin's "The Best Thing for You," Don Raye / Gene DePaul's "Star Eyes" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Two Sleepy People." If one chooses to play standards, he can't go wrong with any of those, especially the luminous "Star Eyes" and Berlin's too-seldom heard classic, "The Best Thing."
Other high spots include Stark's deft brushwork and ability to secure the tempo while staying out of everyone's way; Backenroth's sharp and resonant bass solos; and Gustafson's proficiency whether comping or soloing. Rosengren rides their talents like an Indy car driver, and the result is an exemplary team effort that is as stylish as it is rewarding.
Track Listing: I'm Flying; Delilah; Celius Mood; Blues Waltz; The Count; Ever Blue; Where or When; The Best Thing for You; Star Eyes; Autumn; Two Sleepy People; Hip Walk.
Personnel: Bernt Rosengren: tenor sax; Stefan Gustafson: piano; Hans Backenroth: bass; Bengt Stark: drums.