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More big–band Jazz for the thinking man or woman from Swedish trumpeter Bosse Broberg’s fifteen–piece ensemble, Nogenja (for “non–generation Jazz,” signifying that there’s no generation gap within the music itself or among those who play it). Broberg calls his band the “Jazz Soloist Ensemble,” an appropriate name indeed, as it is comprised of a number of Sweden’s most accomplished improvisers. Conspiracy in Flat Five is Nogenja’s third album; the second, Hommage à Maigret, from 1997 (Sittel 9240), was, like this one, quite frequently engaging, whereas the first, 1995’s Regni (Phono Suecia 93), wandered a little too far and much too often into the realm of mere discord to suit our taste. This time out, Broberg has complemented three of his own elliptical compositions — “Mountain Bridges,” “Mister Trickster,” “Hej Bej” — with five Jazz standards and Victor Young’s luminous ballad, “When I Fall in Love.” The album opens with an ambitious interpretation of “Donna Lee,” which Broberg ascribes to Miles, not Bird, who I always thought was its author. “Mountain Bridges” follows Ellington’s lush “Warm Valley” and precedes John Lewis’ melodious “Django,” “When I Fall in Love,” Ray Bryant’s rhythmic “Cubano Chant” and Billy Strayhorn’s mournful “Blood Count” before Broberg wraps up the session with the impulsive “Trickster” and bluesy “Hej Bej.” Featured soloists — every one of them impressive — are trumpeter Jan Allan (“Donna Lee,” “Django”), saxophonist Lennart Åberg (tenor on “Warm Valley,” soprano on “Blood Count”), tenor Dave Wilczewski (“Mountain Bridges,” “Cubano Chant”), drummer Johan Löfcrantz (“Bridges,” “Trickster”), baritone John Högman (“Django”), pianist Gösta Rundqvist, bassist Hans Andersson and trombonist Bertil Strandberg (“When I Fall in Love”), Strandberg, tenor Krister Andersson and trumpeter Peter Asplund (“Trickster”), Krister Andersson, Hans Andersson and Broberg (“Hej Bej”). But this is far more than a pleasure trip for soloists; Broberg writes dense ensemble passages that come at the listener from all directions while challenging the musicians to stay alert and on their toes, which they are throughout. Nogenja’s perceptive rhythm section (Rundqvist, Löfcrantz, Hans Andersson) is especially masterful in dealing with Broberg’s rapid changes in mood and tempo. Not for the casual listener, but abundantly rewarding for those gem–hunters who are willing to dig below the surface to uncover the treasures that are buried there.
Contact:STIM / Svensk Musik, Box 27327, SE–102 54, Stockholm, Sweden. Phone +46 8 783 88 00. E–mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web site, www.mic.stim.se
Track Listing: Donna Lee (in Flat 5); Warm Valley; Mountain Bridges; Django; When I Fall in Love; Cubano Chant; Blood Count; Mister Trickster; Hej Bej (70:13).
Personnel: Bosse Broberg, trumpet, leader, arranger; Hans Dyvik, Peter Asplund, Jan Allan, trumpet; Thomas Driving, flugelhorn; Olle Holmquist, Bertil Strandberg, trombone; Sven Larsson, bass trombone, tuba; Krister Andersson, alto, tenor sax, clarinet; Lennart