From the coastal town of Malmo, Sweden, the eighteen-piece Tolvan Big Band has developed into one of the finest contemporary jazz orchestras in the world. Led by saxophonist and composer Helge Albin since 1979, the band entered Sun Studios in Copenhagen on April 22nd of 2007 and emerged with Code Red, a powerhouse recording of seven original big band arrangements in the finest tradition of the genre.
Leader Albin contributes three compositions, including the muscular opening piece and title track that charges out of the gate with pulsating energy. Saxophonist Cennet Jonsson provides another three charts, and pianist Jacob Karlzon pens the intricate finale, "Ups And Downs, featuring his play on the keys.
Jonsson's "Cats And Dogs, is a challenging number characterized by several mood changes and highlighted by Vincent Nilsson's gentle trombone. only to be eclipsed by Albin's alto solo. Contributing another outstanding score with "The Other Day, Jonsson is featured blowing a wicked soprano.
There's no monkey business on the assertive "Going Bananas as the horns come alive, with the trumpets and the bones providing the meat. The versatile Jonsson plays bass clarinet on the attractive, soft ballad "Subconscious C, and saves his best for last with the twelve-minute "Antelope Dance, easily the group's signature tune and defining moment. This one moves to a terrific rhythm, with several choruses featuring Peter Asplund's flugelhorn and Inge Petersson's scorching tenor.
Those who continue to preach the eventual demise of big band music haven't had the pleasure of sampling Swedish jazz, and the music from the Tolvan Big Band. With excellent charts, and arrangements that demand the most from an outstanding woodwind section, Code Red delivers a powerful musical statement and signals a clear green light from this listener.
Code Red; Cats and Dogs; The Other Day; Going Bananas; Subconscious C; Antelope Dance; Ups and Downs.
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