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Bengt Nordstrom: Creative Addition

Clifford Allen By

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Bengt Nordstrom: Creative Addition Reedman Bengt "Frippe" Nordstrom (1936-2000) was both a sort of "enfant terrible" of Swedish jazz and one of the movers and shakers in the early years of Scandinavian jazz. In addition to the reedman's own LPs, his Bird Notes imprint, while virtually unknown outside of Sweden, released tiny batches of recordings by Albert Ayler (Something Different!!!, 1962) and Don Cherry. Nevertheless, recording situations were few and far between outside of a few sideman appearances and rare leader dates during his lifetime. The group Miljovardsverket was the most regularly working group Nordstrom ever had, a special feat during the otherwise lean times of the late '80s. Loosely translated to "Environmental Control Office" and in a slight nod to Ayler's mid '60s groups, he was joined by violinist Lars Svanteson, bassist Bjorn Alke and drummer Peeter Uuskyla over a two-year recording flourish. Only in recent years have tapes resurfaced on the Ayler Records label; prior to these discoveries, Now's the Frippe Time (Dragon) was the ensemble's only documentation.

Creative Addition captures the Miljovardsverket in two concerts in Umea and Gothenburg in 1987-88, when the group was subsidized by the Swedish government. Unlike Ayler, the music of Frippe's quartet eschews suite forms and martial swirl, instead commenting and building small solo vignettes atop knotty and often spare string interaction. His improvisations in turn take the ensemble from dirge to Rollins-esque bounce, as occurs at minute seven of "Western Girls." Once Alke and Uuskyla enter into free-time territory, the cheekiness of Rollins departs for a stately but protean work-through of a ballad form, Nordstrom's tenor chortles and neighs huge and ultimately rather vulnerable when not completely enveloped by strings and drums. Sometimes it seems as though Frippe is in parallel to the trio, barging in on an intricate passage but merrily towing them along. Perhaps that's the way it should be, for his music was always well outside the mainstream and just to the left of Swedish vanguard traditions.


Track Listing: Bird Flight; North; Seriously Speaking; Western Girls; The Girls from Smoeland.

Personnel: Bengt Nordstrom: tenor saxophone, clarinet and voice; Lars Svanteson: violin, Bjorn Alke: bass; Peeter Uuskyla: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Ayler Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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