There's a thriving jazz community in Sweden, some of whose roots are planted firmly in the bop idiom, and young alto saxophonist Fredrik Kronkvist's quartet, which follows that path, is about as accomplished as any you're likely to hear in this country.
Kronkvist himself comes from a line that began with Bird, continued through the Sonnys Criss and Stitt, Jackie McLean, Phil Woods, Lou Donaldson, Cannonball Adderley, Charles McPherson, Herb Geller and Frank Morgan to such younger contemporaries as Gary Bartz, Bobby Watson, Kenny Garrett, Vincent Herring, Jesse Davis and others. He produces a handsome sound, closest perhaps to Criss, Morgan or Garrett, and has a formidable technique to match. The other principal soloist, pianist Daniel Tilling, also has great chops and, like Kronkvist, a flowing stream of impressive ideas that may not be innovative but seldom fail to please.
The program consists of eight original compositions by Kronkvist and one each by Fred Lacey (the entrancing ballad "Theme for Ernie") and Lasse Dahlqvist ("Litet Grann Från Ovan," which must translate in English as "Three O'Clock in the Morning," as its melody is precisely the same as that old American standard). Kronkvist's tunes sound much like those one would have encountered on any number of Blue Note recordings from the '50s or '60s in sessions led by McLean, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Hank Mobley, Donald Byrd, Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce, Red Garland, Freddie Hubbard, Blue Mitchell, Bobby Timmons . . . the list goes on.
Kronkvist, Tilling and their colleagues, bassist Martin Sjöstedt and drummer Daniel Fredriksson, work quite well as a unit, blending the proper amounts of energy and finesse to construct an album that stands up well when exposed to the strong winds of analysis.
Contact: Sittel Records, P.O. Box 2070, SE 750 02 Uppsala, Sweden. Phone +46 18 55 50 80; fax +46 18 50 55 81; web site, www.sittel.se