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Bobo Stenson: A Discography

Budd Kopman By

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Stenson and Jormin should not be forgotten, however, since as rhythm section they play as one. Stenson's solos on "Piercing the Veil" is full of energy and unpredictable, and one can hear someone vocalizing to the music. An eerie flute in its lowest register against a simple vamp starts "Little Piece," and anyone claiming to not like flute in jazz should listen to this very cool playing.

"Thelonious Theonlyus" is full smiles and Stenson outdoes himself with sly chromaticism and rhythm. The playing of the piano strings themselves is introduced in "Hymne to the Mother," and revisited in "Tales of Rumi" on Canto, and here Lloyd raises a prayer to all Mothers, both of the earth and the body.

Fully half of the album is taken up by "Cape to Cairo Suite," "Evanstide, Where Lotus Bloom" and "All My Relations." Each has much wonderful playing from everyone, including a fine solo by Stenson in "Evanstide," but they feel like they could have been tightened up (perhaps especially in "All My Relations," which has a very long solo introduction by Lloyd) and be just as effective.

Hakan Brostrom
Celestial Nights

Dragon 257
1994 (1994)

Celestial Nights feels much more introverted than Dark Light. The mood here is more thoughtful for the most part. Even "Possibilities," the most driving tune has a much lighter feel, although Kjellberg is blistering with his cymbals. "Dance Of The Leaves" evokes images of a happy dance out in the warm sun. "Rememberance," the longest track by far, has a lightly hopping melody on which Stenson plays a wonderful solo, but with many more chordal sections than usual, perhaps to add more drive.

The title tune itself, which Brostrom states is a group improvisation, feels a bit unfocused and rudderless. Nevertheless, between this release and Dark Light one can get a good feel for this very inventive musician who communicates his feelings quite directly through his music.

Don Cherry
Dona Nostra

ECM 1448
1994 (1993)

Dona Nostra is Cherry's last recording; he died of liver cancer in 1995. The overall mood is introduced by Stenson in his chordal playing of the beautiful and simple theme of "In Memoriam," written by Lennart Aberg which sounds a bit like "Celina" from Matka Johanna. Stenson expands on Aberg with his flowing, twisting lines and trademark wide dynamic range. In the last third of the track Stenson plays around, over and under Aberg's mournful lines, and Cherry does not appear.

"Fort Cherry," "Arrows," "Vienna" and "Ahayu-Da" are group improvisations that succeed to various degrees, with the first and the last the most engaging. "M'Bizo" has a haunting theme initially played by Cherry and Aberg in unison. Stenson seems to choose the perfect notes throughout and gives the track its shape. The driving rhythm and dancing vamp "Race Face" by Ornette Coleman is picked up again by Stenson on Goodbye. Aberg takes off and is answered in every way by Stenson. Cherry is again mostly absent, but he does play, supported by percussion and bass throughout the mysterious "Prayer." Another tune by Ornette Coleman, "What Reason Could I Give," is the shortest track, played as a duet by Cherry and Stenson and brings tears. Wonderful music, but surprisingly not much Don Cherry.

Joakim Milder/Bobo Stenson/Palle Danielsson/Fredrik Noren
Sister Majs Blouse -The Music of Borje Fredriksson

Mirrors 002
1993 (1993)

Sister Majs Blouse is the first of two releases by this quartet of players deeply affected by Frediksson. Go to Epilogue for their intertwined histories. The title tune refers to a nurse who was very important to Frediksson during his last days, and is a mournful blues on which Stenson plays a few choruses after Milder plays some of the saddest jazz blues you ever heard. Together, the tunes span a range of styles that show Freriksson's broad music taste.

From "Mahatma" that evokes "Night in Tunisia" until it veers away to the absolutely gorgeous "Ballad for Laila," and on to the folk music influenced "Brollopsvals," Fredriksson's music is timeless and can easily fit into today's esthetic. One of the most highly regarded young musicians of his time, he has influenced many, including this quartet, down to the present day.

Charles Lloyd
Notes From Big Sur

ECM 1465
1992 (1991)

Lloyd has a slightly softer tone than elsewhere on "Requiem" and Stenson answers his opening plaintive solo his own very solidly built solo that takes the middle third of the eight-minute track. Lloyd's usual techniques are on display, and his way of sounding as if he is wandering while negotiating the harmony is immediately noticeable. "Sister" has a similar mood and structure, but the track is lifted by Stenson who is showing how well he adapts himself to the needs of the music at hand.


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