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Susanna Lindeborg's Mwendo Dawa: Breathing Clusters

Glenn Astarita By

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Classically trained Swedish Pianist Susanna Lindeborg plays with conviction and at times relies on a “heavy-handed approach. Not one for nimble and soft fingering on the keys, Ms Lindeborg creates intriguing themes and frequently shifts “musical” strategies throughout this recording. Backed by her long time band called “Mwendo Dawa”, which in Swahili means “the way to a special goal” Lindeborg and Co. go for the jugular with crafty ensemble work that packs a mean punch. Lindeborg is responsible for 2 compositions while Tenor Sax ace Ove Johansson gets credit for 8 pieces as the band members divvy up the remaining 4 comps. Everyone gets his or her day in the sun on this outing.

Lindeborg’s composition and the title cut “Breathing Clusters” features Lindeborg’s mutant sounding electric piano supplemented by expert support from her bandmates. Lindeborg is a stickler for huge block chords on the keys which alludes to a commanding presence. Here, Lindeborg shows good rhythmic sensibilities while Tenor Saxophonist Ove Johansson’s lightning fast maneuvers keep the tempo ablaze. The rhythmic intensity and interaction is reminiscent of late 1970’s Weather Report although, this piece and others reference Modern Jazz as opposed to Fusion. Lindeborg’s hard-edged and very linear approach may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, her phrasing and improvisational skills are genuinely unique. That Euro-Classical feel is evident yet when called upon, Ms. Lindeborg can swing! Johansson’s “You Don’t Need To Know” commences with a mock-Funk backbeat. Johansson and Lindeborg trade choruses as the rhythm section slowly picks up steam. Lindeborg displays some good angularity on this track and borrowing from the title of this project, Lindeborg often performs in clusters or structured fragments. Johansson is staggering whether on Tenor or the EWI. Johansson’s “Body Without Soul” features the wonderful full-bodied Acoustic Bass of Jimmi Roger Pedersen. Here Pedersen’s passages lie somewhere between Charlie Haden and Eberhard Weber. On this track Pedersen steps out with his big resonant sound often changing pitch while hammering the Bass strings in eloquent fashion. “Body Without Soul” contains that ECM-ish aura while openly appealing and expressively emotive. Johansson’s “AntiTime Time” is an adrenaline induced burner supported by Lindeborg’s electronic keyboards and a charging rhythm section. Lindeborg flexes her might on this track with an abundance of dynamics and intriguing keyboard work.

Overall, the electrifying interplay and free improvisation among the band keeps this train-a-rolling’. “Mwendo Dawa” represent just a fraction of the “new-music” that emanates from Europe. New ways of thinking in conjunction with proven concepts keep Modern Jazz on its feet. “Breathing Clusters” proves that notion beyond a doubt.


Personnel:

Susanna Lindeborg: Piano, Synthesizer, Sampler: Ove Johansson; Tenor Sax, EWI: Jimmi Roger Pedersen; Bass: David sundby; Drums. Website: http://www.lj-records.se

Title: Breathing Clusters | Year Released: 1999


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