Bobo Stenson: A Discography

Budd Kopman By

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Fish Out Of Water is the first of the Lloyd/Stenson collaborations and the first ECM recording. Lloyd had retired from playing and it was Michel Petrucciani who persuaded him to return to jazz in the early 1980s. The mood is introspective and mysterious and the connection between Lloyd and Coltrane can be very clear at times. Most of the time, however, Lloyd is quite melodic and plaintive with the uncanny ability to spin out a line that seems disconnected from both the harmony and the rhythm, yet which is very logical.

His playing can be entrancing as one follows the line that can stay within a narrow range yet never be boring. Lloyd has quite a few mannerisms that make him recognizable, the primary one being an arpeggio with the middle note fingered two different ways. What has been called the "ECM rhythm section" is quite sympathetic to Lloyd's music and gets very inside his thinking. Stenson's solos invariably maintain the intensity set by Lloyd, yet he remains himself. This record might not be the first one of Lloyd's to listen to, but is a very interesting link when compared to the others.

Anders Jormin
Eight Pieces

Dragon 306
1998 (1988)

Eight Pieces is a "festival suite" (as described by Jormin) originally written for the Gothenberg Jazz Festival in 1987. This octet produces an amazing sound as it realizes the compositions and arrangements of Jormin. "Em Snabba" ("Five Fast"), the opening tune, simply burns as Kleive (drums), Klinghageb (guitar) and Jormin himself set up an unrelenting rhythmic drive over which Wilczewski wails on soprano saxophone. Stenson answers with a typical tight, pithy, twisting and turning solo backed by softer, but still driving drums and bass.

At the other end of the spectrum, "30," a ballad written for Jormin's wife's birthday, uses Eric Satie for inspiration, and features a floating melody played by guitar surrounded by the filligrees of Stenson. In between we find "Em," which Jormin describes as a mood piece, and which features a saxophone solo with almost no notes but rather sounds and almost speech, backed by arpeggiated piano chords and waves of synthesizer.

"N.S." says Jormin, is "a song to which I also wrote lyrics -which Thomas Gustafson sings through his horn." The suite ranges over many other styles as well and proves Jormin to be an eclectic and omnivorous musician at home anywhere in the wide world of jazz.

Anders Jormin
Nordic Light

Dragon 305
2000 (1984)

Nordic Light is an extremely interesting record for anyone with a predilection for Scandinavian jazz. Even if one does not know any of the melodies from the better-known composers (Edvard Grieg, Carl Nielsen) or, for that matter from the unknowns (August Ekstrom, Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, Carl Sjoberg), the arrangements by Jormin and the playing, particular by the passionate Gustafson, make for extremely enjoyable jazz from the north lands.

The melodies, which clearly were not written with jazz improvisation in mind, have a slightly more composed feel about them which can be heard during their declamation. During the improvisatory sections, however, the musicians really let go. Stenson plays an extraordinary solo in "Solverigs vuggesang" (from Peer Gynt), perhaps because this music is in his blood.

Gustafson plays a emotive soprano saxophone on "Tonerna," the one work of Sjoberg that has been immortalized, but which has never been given quite the treatment it is given here. All of the tracks bring out heartfelt playing from the whole group, and, as such, provide a window into the Nordic soul.

Jan Garbarek

ECM 1118
1976 (1975)

The first differences one might notice between Dansere and Witchi-Tai-To are that the former is altogether softer while Stenson is much more forceful, with Garbarek still employing that very tight, driving sound. The title tune is fifteen minutes long and has more of a haunting quality than anything on the previous album. Stenson plays marvelously, having seemed to have found his feet in this kind of music. The rest of the tunes that make up the forty minute disc share both a sense of grand space and Garbarek's insistent sound, usually much louder than the rest of the instruments. "Lokk" is the only tune not composed by Garbarek, but it sums up the feel of the record. Empty space, dark blue endless sky, loneliness, a call out to the wilderness, at first unaccompanied, then with sparse murmerings from the band. Stenson plays a rubato solo that could tear your heart apart. Either this clicks with you or not, but, of course, that can be said of all jazz.

Jan Garbarek/Bobo Stenson Quartet

ECM 1041
1974 (1973)

The stylistic shift from Afric Pepperbird, to Sart, on to Triptykon through Witchi-Tai-To and ending with Dansere (which is Stenson's last album with Garbarek) is from relatively free playing that evokes many visual images and emotions to the sound that is most associated with Garbarek and dubbed the "ECM Sound" which, however has never been really defined. Witchi-Tai-To can be thought of as a hinge album between the two sides of Garbarek. The tunes, except for "Kukka," by Palle Danielsson, are composed by others including Carla Bley, Jim Pepper and Don Cherry. What sets it most apart from its earlier cousins is the appearance of very regular rhythmic patterns and a clear, but many times static, harmony along with tunes of more regular structure. Whatever else can be said about the music, it definitely moves from being on the heady, abstract side over to that which is more overtly and directly emotional.

Specifically, Garbarek plays the enticing melody to "A.I.R" by Carla Bley on soprano sax with his characteristic sound which has a slight burr being forcefully pushed out. The harmony is a simple pair of alternating chords, so Danielsson and Stenson are left trying to find as many ways as possible to vary the accompaniment, and Stenson's solo feels like a meander. The title tune by Jim Pepper starts with a slightly bluesy intro by Stenson and has a very open, almost "big sky" feel, having a harmonic structure which is a circular series of chords that is repeated. Garbarek blows his heart out on the very pretty melody.

Nearly half of the album is taken up by Don Cherry's "Desireless." After an ethereal piano intro with percussion and chimes, Garbarek lays out the melody with his tenor sax that has the same timbre as the earlier soprano. The group is clearly taking its time and each member of the band expands over a static bass vamp.

Terje Rypdal
Terje Rypdal

ECM 1016
1971 (1971)

Rypdal is not merely a guitarist but more of a sound painter who happens to use electric guitar and effects as his tools. The music is built mostly on vamps and is quite static. Stenson is not really audible as a soloist and is in fact replaced in "Electric Fantasy," the fifteen minute and longest track, by Tom Halverson. Clearly music of its time, Terje Rypdal owes much of its vibe to releases like Miles Davis' In A Silent Way. Stenson did not work with Rypdal again, so perhaps this music was not a good fit for him.

Jan Garbarek/Bobo Stenson/Terje Rypdal/Arild Andersen/Jon Christensen

ECM 1015
1971 (1971)

Sart is Grabarek's second album, and Stenson is essentially an addition to the previous quartet. This early Garbarek is quite different from the more well-known sound of Witchi-Tai-To and Dansere three or fours years hence.

The music is quite abstract in that it aims to evoke emotions through sound shaping rather than tune, and Stenson adds filligrees, arpeggios and dense chords towards that end. In the title tune, Garbarek erupts with one of the most terrifying saxophone howls on record, while Rypdal lets loose with one of his guitar effects solos in "Song of Space." "Lontano," by Rypdal, with its extreme effects shows up again in Rypdal's own Terje Rypdal of the same year.

Stenson plays the most on "Irr" which slowly takes shape after a bass-only intro, then drums are added until Grabarek plays a typically abstract solo on which Stenson picks up the last two notes to start his solo about halfway through the track. Relentlessly pushing forward in front of a fiery Christensen and pulsing Andersen, Stenson makes his statement count.

George Russell
Listen To The Silence
Soul Note 121024
1983 (1971)

This work was commissioned by the Norwegian Cultural Fund for the 1971 Kongsberg Jazz Festival, specifically for the performance in the Kongsberg Church in Kongsberg, Norway, and has been recorded live at the premier on June 26, 1971.

Three choral groups and jazz band perform the four "Events" with some singing and much spoken text, featuring anti-war articles from Newsweek, and some philosophical musings that feel Buddhist, even when talking about Christianity. The band only gets to play at the end of Event III and the first half of Event IV. Stenson is on electric piano and does not solo. An interesting composition that has all of the problems of choral enunciation and audience uderstandability in a big space.

Lars Farnlof
Phono Suecia 117
2001 (1970-73)

Lars Farnlof (1942-1994) suffered from polio contracted in childhood, but nevertheless was a very highly regarded player and composer with tunes recorded by Stan Getz and Bill Evans. His musical education in Los Angeles led him to want to write for larger musical forces but also to find a balance between the composed and the improvised. After a seven year gestation he produced Heureka, a three part symphonic suite for jazz quartet and symphony orchestra, which premiered in Vasteras in 1969.

The twenty-three minute piece has a ten minute symphonic section, after which the quartet makes its entrance, and from then on the two groups interact. The purely orchestral music can be quite beautiful, sounding vaguely of Sibelius, but definitely Nordic. The jazz improvisations are solid and Farnlof gets a gorgeous flugelhorn sound. This is very early Stenson, but the basics of his style are audible.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Your Story; Indikon; Indicum; Ermutigung; Indigo; December; La Peregrinacion; Event VI; Ave Maria; Tit er jeg glad; Sol; Ubi Caritas.

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double bass; Jon Fält: drums


Tracks: Olivia; Song of Ruth; Wooden Church; M; Chiquilín de Bachín; Pages; Don's Kora Song; A Fixed Goal; Love I've Found You; Liebesode; Song of Ruth.

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Jon Fält: drums.


Tracks: Send In The Clowns; Rowan; Alfonsina; There Comes A Time; Song About Earth; Seli; Goodbye; Music For A While; Allegretto Rubato; Jack Of Clubs; Sudan; Queer Street; Triple Play; Race Face.

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Paul Motian: drums.


Tracks: CD1: T.; West Print; North Print; East Print; South Print; Polska Of Despair (II); Golden Rain; Swee Pea; Simple & Sweet; Der Pflaumenbaum; CD2: El Mayor; Fader V (Father World); Extra Low; Die Nachtigall; Rimbaud Gedicht; Polska of Despair (I); Tonus.

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double bass; Jon Christensen: drums.

:rarum VIII

Tracks: East Print; Svevende; What Reason Could I Give?; Oleo de mujer con sombrero; Father V; Song; Morning Heavy Song; Golden Rain; Witchi-Tai-To; Reflection in D; Untitled; Little Peace; Ahayu-Da.

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Jon Christensen: drums; Jan Garbarek; tenor and soprano saxophone; Palle Danielsson double-bass; Don Cherry: trumpet; Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone; Billy Hart: drums; Tomasz Stanko: trumpet; Tony Oxley: drums; Arild Andersen: double-bass; Anders Kjellberg: drums; Okay Temiz: percussion.

War Orphans

Tracks: Oleo de mujer con sombrero; Natt; All My Life; Eleventh Of January; War Orphans; Sediment; Bengali Blues; Melancholia.

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Jon Christensen: drums.


Tracks: The Enlightener; My Man's Gone Now; NOT; Dorrmattan; Q; Reflections in D; 12 Tones Old; Mindiatyr.

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Jon Christensen: drums.

Very Early

Tracks: Moon And Sand; Some Other Spring; Very Early; Autumn In New York; Coming On The Bike; Pavane; Satellite; Sorg; Ramblin.'

Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: bass; Rune Carlsson: drums.

Entrance 3

Tracks: All'Alba; Lekh Leka; Entrance 3; L'Étang

Personnel: François Carrier: alto saxophone; Pierre Côte: double bass; Michel Lamber: drums; Bobo Stenson: piano.

Plunge with Bobo Stenson

Tracks: Lingua Franca; Wrestler; Back and Forth; Prolog; 12 Tones Old; Three Characters; Humble Rumble; Levitation; Castor; Gears; A Moment of Clarity; Dense Image; Visit by Onkel Time; Ethos Gives Posture.

Personnel: Andreas Andersson: saxophones; Bobo Stenson: piano; Matthias Hjorth: bass; Peter Nilsson: drums.

Seven Pieces

Tracks: Spiraltrappan; The Don; 4; Lena's Tune; Skalovningar; Ornette Or Not; Chris-Chros.

Personnel: Lennart Aberg: soprano, tenor saxophone, flute; Bobo Stenson: piano; Palle Danielsson: double-bass; Peter Erskine: drums (except 2,6); Fredrik Noren: trumpet (1,3,5,7); Peter Asplund: trumpet (1,2,3,5,6,7); Magnus Broo: trumpet (1,3,5,7); Bosse Broberg: trumpet (3,7); Bertil Strandberg: trombone (1,3,5,7); Mattis Cederberg: bass trombone (1,3,5,7); Magnus Peterson: french horn (1,3,5); Hakan Brostrom: alto, soprano saxophones, flute (1,3,5,7); David Wilczewski: tenor, soprano saxophones, flute (1,3,5,7); Erik Nilsson: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, flute (1,3,5,7); Mattias Stahl: marimba, vibraphone (1,2,3,5,6,7); Daniel Karlsson: synthesizer (1,3,5,7); Johan Lofcranz: drums (2,6).

In So Many Words

Tracks: The Picture; Where the Roof Meets the Sky; The Blues; My Favourite Things; Everywhere I Go; The Come On; When the Rain Falls; Detour Ahead; The Games We Play; The Shifting of the Winds.

Personnel: Trine-Lise Vaering: voice; Bobo Stenson: piano; Mads Vinding: bass; Alex Riel: drums.

Epilogue -The Music of Borje Fredriksson

Tracks: Intervall; Epilogue I; Hovmastar Rock (Head-waiter rock); Tio sma sota (Ten little sweet darlings); Blues 55; Epilogue II; En berattelse (A story); Back Beat Blues; Amandas villa (Amandas house); Master; Epilogue III.

Personnel: Joakim Milder: tenor saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Palle Danielsson: double-bass; Fredrik Noren: drums.

Seven Footprints To Heaven

Tracks: They Say It Is Wonderful; Seven Steps To Heaven; Footprints; Little Girl In Blue; I Got The Blues In Santa Cruz; The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men; For My Lady; Gratitude; Black Magic; My Foolish Heart; Pannonica; To Welcome The Day.

Personnel: Rune Carlsson: vocal (1-12), drums (3,5); Bernt Rosengren: tenor saxophone; Ulf Andersson: alto saxophone; Goran Strandberg: piano (1-9); Hans Backenroth: bass (1-9); Bengt Stark: drums (1-9); Bobo Stenson: piano (10,11,12).

Litania -Music of Krzysztof Komeda

Tracks: Svantetic; Sleep Safe And Warm; Night-time; Daytime Requiem; Ballada; Litania; Sleep Safe And Warm; Repetition; Ballad For Bernt; The Witch; Sleep Safe And Warm.

Personnel: Tomasz Stanko: trumpet; Bernt Rosengren: tenor saxophone; Joachim Milder: tenor and soprano saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Palle Danielsson: double-bass; Jon Christensen: drums; Terje Rypdal: guitar.


Tracks: Morning Heavy Song; Die Weisheit von Le comte Lautreamont; A Farewell To Maria; Brace; Trinity; Forlorn Walk; Hungry Howl; No Bass Trio; Euforila; Leosia.

Personnel: Tomasz Stanko: trumpet; Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Tony Oxley: drums.


Tracks: Tales of Rumi; How Can I Tell You; Desolation Sound; Canto; Nachiketa's Lament; M; Durga Durga.

Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone, Tibetan oboe; Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Live at Visiones

Tracks: New Hands; Dressed Up; Jung; Little Peanut; Folk Song.

Personnel: Lars Danielsson: bass; David Liebman: soprano saxophone; Jon Christensen: drums; Bobo Stenson: piano.

When I Close My Eyes

Tracks: The Indispensable; The Sacred And The Forlorn; The Sixth Sense; To The End; From The Book Of Love; Portraying A Heart; Angels In The Crowd; We Shan't Be Told; What If; Blame It On My Youth.

Personnel: Trine-Lise Vaering: voice; Bobo Stenson: piano; Mads Vinding: bass; Alex Rial: drums; with Maria Bisgaard: cello; Brigitte Oland: cello; Fredrik Lundin: tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, bass flute; Kurt Larsen: accordian; Jesper Lundgaard: bass.

Ellington And Strayhorn

Tracks: The Intimacy Of The Blues; Sentimental Lady; Prelude To A Kiss; Paris Blues; The Starcrossed Lovers; Serenade To Sweden; Just Squeeze Me; Chelsea Bridge; Portrait Of A Silk-Thread; Daydream; Fleurette Africaine (Little African Flower); Lotus Blossom.

Personnel: Rolf Ericson: trumpet, flugelhorn; Lennart Aberg: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute; Bobo Stenson: piano; Dan Berglund: bass Egil Johansen: drums; Rose-Marie Aberg: vocal; Goran Klingenhagen: electric guitar; Max Schultz: acoustic guitar.

Matka Johanna

Tracks: Monastery In The Dark; Green Sky; Maldoror's War Song; Tales For A Girl, 12; Matka Johanna From The Angels; Cain's Brand; Nun's Mood; Celina; Two Preludes For Tales; Klostergeist.

Personnel: Tomasz Stanko: trumpet; Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Tony Oxley: drums.

All My Relations

Tracks: Piercing The Veil; Little Peace; Thelonious Theonlyus; Cape To Cairo Suite (Hommage to Mandela); Evanstide, Where Lotus Bloom; All My Relations; Hymne To The Mother; Milarepa.

Personnel: Charles Lloyd: saxophone, flute, chinese oboe; Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Billy Hart: drums.

Celestial Nights

Tracks: Spring; The Wagtail I; Celestial Nights; Possibilities; Pueritia; Dance Of The Leaves; The Wagtail II; Remembrance.

Personnel: Hakan Brostrom: alto and soprano saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Christian Spering: bass; Anders Kjellberg: drums.

Dona Nostra

Tracks: In Memoriam; Fort Cherry; Arrows; M'bizo; Race Face; Prayer; What Reason Could I Give; Vienna; Ahayu-Da.

Personnel: Don Cherry: trumpet; Lennart Aberg: saxophones, flute; Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Anders Kjellberg: drums; Okay Temiz: percussion.

Sister Majs Blouse -The Music of Borje Frediksson

Tracks: Sister Majs Blouse; Mahatma; Vasaloparna (Oriental folksong); Stockholm 12; Min heliga (My Holy); Special; Fragment; Brollopsvals (Wedding Waltz); Triangel; Adagio con Espressione; Ballad for Laila.

Personnel: Joakim Milder: tenor saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Palle Danielsson: bass; Fredrik Noren: drums.

Notes From Big Sur

Tracks: Requiem; Sister; Pilgrimage To The Mountain—Part 1: Persevere; Sam Song; Takur; Monk In Paris; When Miss Jessye Sings; Pilgrimage To The Mountain -Part 2: Surrender.

Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: double-bass; Ralph Peterson: drums; Okay Temiz: percussion.


Tracks: Crystalline; Little Peanut; Suite; Dressed Up; Psalmen; Vana; Negative Space; Folk Song (To All Children).

Personnel: Lars Danielsson: bass; Bobo Stenson: piano; David Liebman: soprano saxophone; Jon Christensen: drums; Okay Temiz: percussion.

Dark Light

Tracks: Dark Light; Friendship; Till Cornelius; Rain Ballad; Who's Coming; In And Out; On The Edge; Magic Hands; Love Call.

Personnel: Hakan Brostrom: soprano and tenor saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Max Schultz: guitar; Christian Spering: bass; Anders Kjellberg: drums.

Fish Out Of Water

Tracks: Fish Out Of Water; Hagia Sophia; The Dirge; Bharati; Eyes Of Love; Mirror; Tellaro.

Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone; Bobo Stenson: piano; Palle Danielsson: double-bass; Jon Christensen: drums.

Eight Pieces

Tracks: Fem Snabba; Ostia Antiqua; Em; Till Ro; N. S.; Alla Gator Leder Bort; Burkina; 8. 30.

Personnel: Anders Jormin: bass; Staffan Svensson: trumpet; Thomas Jaderlund: alto and bamboo saxophones; Dave Wilczewski: tenor and soprano saxophones; Thomas Gustafson: tenor and soprano saxophones; Bobo Stenson: piano; Harald Svensson: keyboards; Goran Klinghagen: guitar; Audun Kleive: drums.

Nordic Light

Tracks: Jesus for varlden givit sitt liv (single version); Hyllningsmarsch (single version); Solveigs vuggesang; Junfrun under lind; Tonera; Hyllningsmarsch; Opus 41; Jesus for varlden givit sitt liv.

Personnel: Anders Jormin: bass; Bobo Stenson: piano; Thomas Gustafson: soprano and tenor saxophones; Christian Jormin: drums, percussion.


Tracks: Dansere; Svevende; Bris; Skrik & Hyl; Lokk; Til Venne.

Personnel: Jan Garbarek: saxophones; Bobo Stenson: piano; Palle Daniellson: bass; Jon Christensen: drums


Tracks: A. I. R.; Kukka; Hasta Siempre; Witchi-Tai-To; Desireless.

Personnel: Jan Garbarek: saxophones; Bobo Stenson: piano; Palle Daniellson: bass; Jon Christensen: drums.

Terje Rypdal

Tracks: Keep It Like That -Tight; Rainbow; Electric Fantasy; Lontano II; Tough Enough.

Personnel: Terje Rypdal: guitar, flute; Inge Lise Rypdal: voice; Eckehard Fintal: oboe, English horn; Jan Garbarek: tenor saxophone, flute, clarinet; Bobo Stenson: electric piano; Tom Halversen: electric piano; Arild Andersen: electric bass, double bass; Bjonar Andresen: electric bass; Jon Christensen: percussion.


Tracks: Sart; Fountain Of Tears -Part I and II; Song Of Space; Close Enough For Jazz; Irr; Lontano.

Personnel: Jan Garbarek: tenor saxophone, bass saxophone, flute; Bobo Stenson: piano, e-piano; Terje Rypdal: guitar; Arild Andersen: bass; Jon Christensen: percussion.

Listen To The Silence

Tracks: Event I; Event II; Event III; Event IV.

Personnel: Bjornar Andresen: Fender bass; Arild Andersen: acoustic bass; Terje Rypdal: electric guitar; Webster Lewis: organ; Bobo Stenson: electric piano; Stanton Davis: trumpet; Jan Garbarek: tenor saxophone; Jon Christensen; percussion; George Russell: timpani; Voices" Sue Auclair: soprano; Gailanne Cummings: soprano; Joyce Gippo: alto; Kay Dunlap: alto; David Dusing: tenor; Ray Hardin: tenor; Don Kendrick: bass; Don Hovey: bass; Dan Windham: bass.


Tracks: Heureka; Svit Cachasa: Morket ler; La Bergerie I; La Bergerie II; Cachasa; Delta Queen.

Personnel: Lars Farnlof: flugelhorn; Bobo Stenson: piano (1); Red Mitchell: double bass; Rune Carlsson: drums (1); The Swedish Radio Symphone Orchestra, Leif Segerstam, conductor; The Staffan Abeleen Quintet: Lars Farnlof: cornet, flugelhorn; Bjorn Netz: tenor saxophone; Staffan Abeleen: piano; Fredrik Noren: drums; Red Mitchell: double bass; The Swedish Radio Jazz Group: Bosse Broberg: trumpet; Bertil Lovgren: trumpet; Jan Allen: trumpet; Hakan Nyquist: french horn; Lars Olofsson: trombone; Sven Larsson: bass trombone, tuba; Bertil Farnlof: oboe, cor anglais; Arne Domnerus: alto saxophone; Claes Rosendahl: tenor saxophone, flute; Erik Nilsson: baritone saxophone; Bengt Hallberg: piano; Rune Gustafsson: guitar; Stefan Brolund: electric bass; Egil Johansen: drums; Jan Bandel: congas.

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