The Stockholm Jazz Orchestra is a world class outfit. Led by veteran trumpet player Fredrik Noren and featuring arrangements by Chicago pianist Jim McNeely, its members come from all over Sweden and beyond in a fascinating meeting of generations. Consider, if you will, the trumpet section where grey-haired, moustachioed Gustavo Bergalli, born 1940 in Buenos Aires (ex-Michel Legrand and Gato Barbieri), sits alongside Karl Olandersson, born 1978, who with his pin-up boy looks and occasional vocals, reminds you of a latter day Chet Baker, before the white stuff got to him.
As the title implies, all the numbers on this album were composed by members of the orchestra. The stand-out tracks are by trumpeters Peter Asplund and Magnus Broo. Asplund's atmospheric "The Prowlers" kicks things off with an authoritative solo from the author. Broo, born 1965, studied in Texas with tuba player and brass instructor Rich Matteson. The experience comes through on "Cochise," a firey, rocking tribute to the Apache chief and one of three numbers arranged with customary precision by McNeely.
Veteran trombonist Bertil Strandberg, who spent most of the 1980s working in the US during which time he led the trombone section of the Artie Shaw Orchestra, contributes something of a tour de force with his eight-minute solo outing, "Just Being." It's a lovely, lilting ballad and Strandberg wisely abandons instrumental fireworks to concentrate on melody. Ola Bengtsson provides very nice, understated guitar accompaniment.
Another interesting track is "O.D." by reedman Karl-Martin Almqvist, a graduate of New York's Mannes College of Music. Almqvist is a talented, individual and extremely lyrical voice. Martin Sjöstedt's bass solo is supported by supremely tasteful guitar by Bengtsson. Don't miss trombonist Magnus Wiklund's solo on Bergalli's "Dedication." Shame about the abrupt ending to this otherwise excellent Bob Mintzer arrangement. The closer, "Avenida," by drummer Jukkis Uotila, follows in a rowdy tradition established by the likes of Gene Krupa and Louis Bellson.
This album will repay continued and concentrated listening. It makes an excellent introduction to the current Swedish jazz scene.
Track Listing: The Prowlers; Mondeo; Cochise; Sarimner's Waltz; O.D.; Dedication; Just Being; Avenida.
Personnel: Fredrik Noren, Karl Olandersson, Peter Asplund, Magnus Broo, Gustavo Bergalli: trumpets; Bertil Strandberg,
Magnus Wiklund, Peter Dahlgren, Bjorn Hangsel: trombones; Johan Horlen, Magnus Blom, Karl-Martin Almqvist,
Robert Nordmark, Neta Noren: reeds and flutes; Daniel Tilling: piano; Ola Bengtsson: guitar; Martin Sjostedt:
bass; Jukkis Uotila: drums.