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Anders Jormin: Touching the Heart and Spirit

John Kelman By

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Emerging onto the Swedish scene in the late '70s and early '80s, Jormin had the opportunity for exposure to a wide variety of players in Gotenberg, a city where the emphasis seemed more on the cultivation of creative music rather than event-based music. "There was quite a happening music scene in the late '70s and early '80s," explains Jormin, "and I was fortunate to move to Gotenberg, the second largest city in Sweden, which had quite a living musical situation with lots of different music and musicians happening. At that time musicians were moving from different parts of Sweden to either Stockholm or Gotenberg. But looking back you can definitely see that, while Stockholm tended to be a more traditional jazz centre—big band music, entertainment music, etc.—Gotenberg became more concert music, the improvised music being played in concerts rather than behind a star, sitting in a big band. So the scenes were different and, looking back, I am happy that I decided to go to Gotenberg rather than Stockholm as a young player because for me that scene was much more interesting and challenging.

"The local jazz club," continues Jormin, "which is a very good and quite famous one called Nefertiti, still did the kind of concerts where an American star—Dexter Gordon or Horace Parlan for example—would travel up here and play with local rhythm sections. So I was fortunate to do that kind of gig for a couple of years; had I been a couple of years younger I would have missed that whole way of doing jazz music -the star coming and playing with the local guys which was, of course, a very interesting education for me. That, combined with studying in school, was very, very good experience for me."

First Projects and Bobo Stenson

By the mid-'80s Jormin had already established himself as a player of note on the Swedish scene, recording his first album as a leader, Nordic Lights in '84. It was on this album that Jormin first teamed up with pianist Bobo Stenson, already a local legend through his classic recordings with saxophonist Jan Garbarek for ECM. "The first situation where we played together," explains Jormin, "was when I formed my first serious band, which was called Nordic Lights, and also became my first album under my own name. We played my arrangements of Scandinavian classical music. It was all by the major composers of Scandinavia -Danes, Norwegians and Swedes mostly. I rearranged them for a quartet with saxophone, piano, bass and drums and I asked Bobo to play in the band. He came to Gotenberg and we started working together and I guess we found each other quite immediately on a musical level, although he was already very experienced and I was quite a young guy, but it worked very well. Later on he got me playing with the band Rene Rama, where I replaced Palle Danielsson; that was quite a well-known jazz quartet.

"I really admire Bobo's ability to improvise in the truest meaning," continues Jormin. "I can honestly say that, having played a lot of concerts with him and, for short periods, basically the same material evening after evening, it is never the same. From the first note it may be completely different. That was a big inspiration for me and I still admire it, because in the whole world of jazz players, I have actually come to realize that few are true improvisers, and Bobo is one of them. His music is not built upon patterns or anything like that -pre-worked arrangements. And he is never interested in trying to redo the success of last night. If you suddenly come up with something interesting onstage it's very tempting to do it again. He is not very interested in that, and that's also a good example of a really strong improviser. Additionally, he has classical studies in his background, and on the records we have done together there's always a couple of classical pieces, most of them from my pen or suggestions/arrangements from me, but he is always happy when I come up with them."

Alone

Jormin's second album, Eight Pieces also featured Stenson, but in a larger ensemble and, at the same time, Jormin began to work as part of Stenson's own trio. For his third release, '91's Alone , Jormin would make a move that is risky even for an established bassist, by recording an album of solo double-bass music. But the album, which combined in-the-moment improvisations with lyrical interpretations of material by artists including one of his favourite composers, the Cuban Silvio Rodriguez, established Jormin's reputation as a bassist of note. "The album actually gained me enormous positive credit for many years," Jormin says. "That record suddenly gained me a name as one of the major bassists in Scandinavia, basically overnight. I received many different awards and prizes, so sometimes it's worth taking the risk."

Charles Lloyd and Tomasz Stanko

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