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Bobo Stenson: A Discography

Budd Kopman By

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Lloyd also has some trademark things that he repeatedly does, such as playing repeated notes with different fingerings and reaching notes through a sliding cry that vocalizes every line he plays. Lloyd's compositions tend to spin out from a diffuse structure, so the listener must just let it wash over her as his music, which does have time, melody and harmony just refuses to settle down, and which can be quite rewarding and healing for those able to do so.

Lars Danielsson
Live at Visiones

Dragon 309
1997 (1996)
Tracks

Ostensibly led by Lars Danielsson, this group feels more like a cooperative, although Liebman, playing soprano saxophone, sounds like the performance leader. With only five tracks taking up an hour, there is much time to stretch out, and the band plays very hot, especially "Little Peanut" where everyone, including Stenson really takes off. This is hot Stenson, and a live version a band represented by the studio recording of Poems.

The music itself is kind of post-Coltrane modal with a strong beat provided by a bass vamp from Danielsson or from Christensen's drumming. Liebman plays quite freely over the bubbling backdrop, and Stenson's comping shows he is always listening, many times echoing Liebman. A fine album that has that "I wish I had been there" feeling in capturing a wonderful set.

Trine-Lise Vaering
When I Close My Eyes
Stunt 19602
1996 (1995)
Tracks

Trine-Lise Vaering has one of those effortless voices with little vibrato that just flows from her to the listener. The effect is the direct communication of her lyrics that carry deep emotion with profundity and sincerity. She projects vulnerability both through her voice and her words, and the total effect can be memsmerizing.

Vaering wrote the music to most her lyrics, but even that written by Fredrick Lundin, who plays saxophones and flutes on a number of tracks, ends up being of a piece because the strength of the lyric's structure. The most normally structured lyric is "Portraying a Heart," which only highlights the difference of the other tracks.

Stenson plays on all tracks except "We Shan't Be Told," and always adds to the performance. The music is not complex harmonically, just structurally, with many odd length phrases. "From the Book of Love" is a duet between Vaerig and Stenson that straddles art and jazz song. His poetic style, being exposed, is plain to hear. Instrumentally, the most exciting track is "Angels in the Crowd" which has but one verse sung in rubato rhythm as an introduction, after which the piano quartet eventually takes off.

Rolf Ericson/Lennart Aberg
Ellington and Strayhorn

Sittel 9223
1995 (1995)
Tracks

Stenson plays the blues, and for the most part avoids the more "pastel" kind of harmonies, although the Stensonian touch and line building are still there. As usual, what he does is totally appropriate to the music at hand, and his solos show a deep love of these wonderful composers. Quite different and refreshing, the tunes, both those that are well known and those lesser known, are given a deep swing that starts with Strayhorn's "The Intimacy of the Blues" and does not let up.

Tomasz Stanko Quartet
Matka Johanna

ECM 1544
1995 (1994)
Tracks

This is some of the most abstract music to come from Stanko. Each track is a musical "image" created from scenes of the movie Matka Johanna from the Angels by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, to whom the album is dedicated. The music ranges from mostly percussion sounds to reworkings of tunes like "Maldoror's War Song," first heard on Bosonossa, to "Tales for a Girl, 12," which finds Stanko playing a line that makes sense without ever repeating itself. Floating, ethereal and evocative, this music is full of beautiful trumpet lines echoed by the individual band members as well as solo passages by Stenson, Jormin and Oxley.

Many tracks have no beginning or end, no reference or obvious meaning. As such, Matka Johanna can be called music of free association, as well as if not free, then very loose jazz. Without the movie to hold things together, it is easy to get lost in the individual tracks, which is not unpleasant to be sure.

The title track, almost eleven minutes long, and in the center if the disc, starts with dark, brooding bass and piano until Stanko plays one of his lines that entwine and seduce the listener without a discernable structure, yet which, nevertheless, moves forward. Superb, if unsettling music.

Charles Lloyd
All My Relations

ECM 1557
1995 (1994)
Tracks

Dedicated to the memory of Swami Ritajananda, All My Relations includes a very touching and funny mini-biography from Lloyd and he wants to sing to the memory of every musician who passed through his hometown, stayed in his house, taught him something, or just said the right thing at the right time to push him in the right direction. And sing he does, with seeming inexhaustible invention, constantly driven by Billy Hart who is much more forceful than on Canto .

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