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Bobo Stenson: A Discography

Budd Kopman By

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This piece, which starts the record, has the strongest sense of pulse among the improvised pieces, and finds Stenson in his hot mode. The tracks composed by the band members sound decidedly different than the freer tracks. There is more structure, both melodically and harmonically, and thus they are easier to immediately grasp. The improvised pieces, however, all have a forward drive produced by the whole band that carries the day and entices the listener, creating marvelous music.

Lennart Aberg
Seven Pieces
Phono Suecia 118
2000 (1999-2000)
Tracks

As the title states, this disc contains seven compositions by Lennart Aberg, performed by different size groups, ranging from what is essentially a big band ("Spiraltrappan," "4," "Skalovningar" and "Chris-Chros") to a sextet ("The Don" and "Ornette Or Not") to a quartet ("Lena's Tune"). Stenson appears on all tracks, as does Palle Danielsson (see Sister Majs Blouse, Epilogue, Litania Fish Out Of Water, Dansere and Witchi-Tai-To to note the long playing relationship with Stenson).

Aberg has an immediately recognizable style on his reeds, but he generally lays back here and lets his compositions peak. "SpiralTrappan," which starts the disc, features a very angular solo by Stenson, and one would never know there are rapidly changing meters. The fast, catchy opening section leads to a rubato section with just Aberg and Stenson, that sounds free but is not, and which leads back to a kind of a recap.

The stylistic change within a piece is echoed between pieces, and they vary quite a lot. "Lena's Tune," with just the quartet, could not be more different, yet it is also quite composed but sounds quite free. Lennart remarks about the complicated harmonies and unusual form, which everyone learned to navigate with just one rehearsal, and how the energy created by the quartet was as big in its own way as the big band. "Ornette Or Not" is an Ornette-esque romp for the sextet that is much fun to listen to with its controlled anarchy, while "4" for the big band is built on a circle of fifths from F7 to Ab7, and is not a blues, but just oozes that blues feeling.

Trine-Lise Vaering
In So Many Words

Stunt 19807
1998 (1997-1998)
Tracks

Vaering is a true poet/singer. Her words speak of her personal experiences, yet touch on universal truths and common feelings. While the poems are beautiful to read, her music truly enhances their effect. Most of the music is written by Vaering, and the tunes have complex structures, needing to follow the words, very much like the earlier When I Close My Eyes.

Her voice is crystal clear and she sings mostly without vibrato and Vaering pulls you in as she exposes herself through song. Stenson, once again, perfectly adapts himself to the music at hand, as he plays on all but two tunes. Standout tracks, for the efforts of both Vaering and Stenson include The Blues, a surprise My Favourite Things, Everywhere I Go (piano and strings) and the gorgeous torch song Detour Ahead. Vaering's two albums with Stenson highlight both her talent and the craft of tunesmanship. Enter Vaering's world of song and be rewarded with some terrific jazz as well.

Joakim Milder/Bobo Stenson/Palle Danielsson/Fredrik Noren
Epilogue -The Music of Borje Fredriksson

Mirrors 007
1998 (1997-1998)
Tracks

This is the second installment of Joakim Milder's project to honor the music and memory of Borje Fredriksson, the first being Sister Majs Blouse. Fredriksson was considered one of the brightest and best performer/composers in the Scandinavian jazz scene, but he was easily hurt and committed suicide in 1968 at age 31.

In 1963, at age eighteen, Stenson started his career with Fredriksson. He considers him his mentor, receiving Fredriksson's sheet music after his death. Milder recounts that he was given Fredriksson's only album, "Intervall" when quite young and how it changed his musical outlook and life. Palle Danielsson and Fredrik Noren made up Fredriksson's last rhythm section, so these four men are all uniquely qualified to play this music. This disc includes many previously unrecorded works.

Stylistically wide-ranging, Epilogue includes tunes as different as the extended driving bop piece "Intervall" to the smokey ballad "Master" to the freely expressive "Amandas villa," with tunes like "Blues 55" and "Back Beat Blues" in between. The treat of the album is the three quite different versions of "Epilogue" which is a sketch.

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