All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

368

Bengt Berger: Beches Brew

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
There is vorticist movement in percussion colorist Bengt Berger's music. Like a whirling fluid mass slingshot around the world—although anchored in the broad folks forms of Swedish music—it sucks in the dancing and chanting, moaning and prancing rhythmic Hindustani and Carnatic music of India and West Africa, especially that of Ghana. And it is all here on Beches Brew, one of the most spectacular records to come out of Europe in 2009. The music is sophisticated and lurid, downright earthy and sensuous yet deeply mystical, magical and mysterious, bringing the best forms of surprise, whether a combination of voice and instruments or instruments alone.

Berger directs his ensemble from behind his battery of percussion instruments, including a conventional drum set. The unique aspect of the music is that, having suggested the form and key in which it is to be played—sometimes no key or form, but just a suggested mood—Berger allows it to unfold. Saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and bassist/engineer Sigge Krantz have played with Berger before. Jonas Knutsson brings his mighty collection of saxophones and often plays counterpoint to Gustafsson when they play ensemble passages throughout the record.

At other times Knutsson and Gustafsson take turns to soar like proverbial birds, swooping in and noodling every so often. Knutsson, with his characteristic bright and son-like intonation, flutters in bursts of hot modal excursions, while Gustafsson is more breathy, dallying sensuously with the notes. Mats Öberg plays a variety of keyboards and is a radiant soloist, while guitarist/bassist Max Schultz is a revelation, an inventive player with a sublime sense of melody. Vocalist Lindha Kallerdahl is sensational with her soaring, glacial interpretations of Tor Rasmussen's and Bjorner Torsson's poetry which she turns into beautiful lyrics. Recalling the electric edginess and ferocity of Nina Hagen, she also wails her bluesy way through tracks like "Laila" and "Dagar, Djur," the latter a modal piece based on the Hindustani raga, "Shanmukhapriya," and several other pieces of this suite.

The music swirls through and revitalizes the Swedish folk tradition with pieces such as "Gurlai Kora," a simple ostinato dappled with melodic phrases. "Nada," on the other hand, incorporates rubato phrases, which are improvised over each other. "Familjen Bra" is a wild, swinging improvisation and "Jag Palperar Platons Grotta" is a short musical statement based on Bjorner Torrson's poem, with unforgettable exchanges between the musicians. The suite also pays tribute to the music of the west of Ghana, with "New Gyil" based on the scale of the unique, wooden pentatonic funeral xylophone (ko-gyil). "Gurukul" describes the reverent environment in a traditional Indian music school.

Beches Brew in its entirety, is a wonderfully crafted suite. It is a world of music that ebbs and flows through the soul of Berger, memorably interpreted by his fellow journeymen.

Track Listing: New Gyil; Oskar's Lullabye; Kakraba High Five; Livet; Laila; Dagar Djur; Simon Says; Jag Palperar Platons Grotta; Nada; Sperings Gånglåt (Canary Version); Familjen Bra; Pizza Excess; Gurukul; Apart; Sperings Gånglåt (Live Version); Flabby Dick; Gurlai Kora.

Personnel: Thomas Gustafsson: soprano and tenor saxophones (right channel); Lindha Kallerdahl: voice; Jonas Knutsson: sopranino, soprano, alto and baritone saxophones; Sigge Krantz: bass (7), background vocals (5); Max Schultz: guitar, banjo, bass, voice; Mats Öberg: keyboards, harmonica, voice; Bengt Berger: drums, percussion.

Title: Beches Brew | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Country & Eastern

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Blue Blue

Blue Blue

Country & Eastern
2016

buy
Blue Blue

Blue Blue

Country & Eastern
2015

buy
The Vedbod Tapes

The Vedbod Tapes

Country and Eastern
2012

buy
Beches Brew

Beches Brew

Country & Eastern
2009

buy

Related Articles

Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Language CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Language
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Earth CD/LP/Track Review
Earth
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Vegir CD/LP/Track Review
Vegir
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 19, 2018
Read "Spirit Fingers" CD/LP/Track Review Spirit Fingers
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 10, 2018
Read "Scarlett Roses" CD/LP/Track Review Scarlett Roses
by Doug Collette
Published: November 26, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by James Nadal
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Glow of Benares" CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Gateway" CD/LP/Track Review Gateway
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "Is That So?" CD/LP/Track Review Is That So?
by Jerry D'Souza
Published: April 9, 2018