The “California connection” on this colorful studio date, recorded in January ’96, is scrupulously forged between two marvelous young Swedish musicians, Asplund and Lundgren, and a duo of long–time West Coast stalwarts, Carpenter and Kreibich. Although Asplund was only 27 at the time and Lundgren 29, they play with an awareness and maturity far beyond their years, while Carpenter (37) and Kreibich (40) balance the scales with the bright–eyed energy and enthusiasm of callow apprentices. Asplund and Lundgren met and became friends in ’93 when Jan received Sweden’s prestigious Thore Swanerud Award for young swing/bop musicians (Asplund had earned the award in 1990). After Lundgren was named Sweden’s Jazz Musician of the Year in ’94, he and Asplund decided to record an album of standards. The result is California Connection, whose cast was assembled on behalf of Four Leaf Clover by veteran Los Angeles producer Dick Bank. The quartet connects at every conceivable level on eight of the twelve selections, and for variety Lundgren and Asplund play without the rhythm section on Swanerud’s best–known composition, “Södermalm,” Lundgren and Carpenter alone interpret Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is the Ocean,” Lundgren plays with Carpenter/Kreibich on the late Stan Hasselgaard’s “Swedish Pastry,” and Asplund does likewise on “I Hear a Rhapsody.” Asplund’s horn is muted on “Rhapsody,” “Cottontail” and “Stockholm Sweetnin’,” open the rest of the way (and sounds at times like a flugelhorn, even though there’s no mention of that in the notes). In any case, he displays uncommon resourcefulness and superior chops, as does Lundgren, who is beyond any doubt one of the most accomplished young post–bop pianists not only in Sweden, but anywhere in the world. Good as Asplund and Lundgren are, Carpenter and Kreibich have no trouble keeping pace with them, and this is about as commendable a session of modern mainstream Jazz as any quartet is likely to fashion.
Track listing: Au Privave; Att Angöra en Brygga; Swedish Pastry; What Is This Thing Called Love?; Södermalm; I Hear a Rhapsody; How Deep Is the Ocean?; Stockholm Sweetnin’; Indian Summer; There Will Never Be Another You; When It’s Sleepy Time Down South; Cottontail (63:30).
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