Johannesson & Schultz: Johannesson & Schultz (2011)
Johannesson & Schultz is an album that triggers memories of those heady days in the late 1960s when fusion was all the rage. One that evokes distant echoes of Miles Davis' In A Silent Way (Columbia, 1969) and the work of guitarist Larry Coryell. It harks back to the quieter, more meditative end of the genre, free of electronic excess and pretension.
So just who are Johannesson and Schultz? Peter Johannesson is a Swedish drummer hitherto best known for his friendship with Herbie Hancock. In 1995, he recorded the EmArcy/Universal album Sixtus (his middle name) with Hancock, and went on to tour Scandinavia with the great pianist (and a member of the group that recorded In A Silent Way). Max Schultz, after a long and ill-advised flirtation with Indian music, has emerged to become one of the most distinctive and original guitarists on the Swedish scene.
The duo is joined by veteran pianist Bobo Stenson, who was starting his career when fusion came along. His superb contribution here really should have earned him "special guest" status. Bassist Martin Sjøstedt, best known for his work with the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, completes the lineup.
Schultz wrote eight of the 14 numbers and Johannesson threeone of which, "Maria," crops up twice in alternate takes. The first acts as a warmup; simple and repetitive, it goes nowhere, but does so in pleasant, dreamy fashion. Stenson delivers an excellent solo, Schultz some finely honed blues licks. The second version is freer, with Stenson again hitting the spot and Schultz coming out of his shell for a lively solo.
The standout track is "Blues For Elvin," a Schultz salute to drummer Elvin Jones. It features some great work by Stenson and a rare solo from Sjøstedt, and is followed, appropriately, by a reverent rendition of John Coltrane's "Impressions."
"The Force" is boppyfast and edgy, and featuring some nice drumming by Johannessonwhile "Footloose" has a folksy feel. "Kling" is a little reminiscent of the old standard "Hallelujah," at least as Kenny Burrell used to play it, while "Too Simple" has, at times, an almost calypso feel. "Kling" is bluesy, and Johannesson's closer, "Drums for Katinka," is a rarity, a drum solo shorn of flamboyance.
Johannesson & Schultz evokes nostalgia, but also takes the music further. No mean feat.
Track Listing: Maria; Way Back; Too Simple; Big McKee; Timeless; The Force; Footloose; Kling; Blues For Elvin; Impressions; Sixtus; Sjøstedts Tolva; Maria (alternative version); Drums For Katinka.
Personnel: Peter Johannesson: drums; Max Schultz: guitar; Bobo Stenson: piano; Martin Sjøstedt: bass.
Record Label: Prophone Records