Ståhls Blå starts on the wrong foot with the strident “Blues för Mor” and takes considerable time to regain its balance (which it never fully does). Dragon Records, which can usually be counted on to send enjoyable CDs for review, seems to have slipped up this time. That’s not to say that others may not find the Swedish quartet’s Dancing quite pleasant. When all is said and done, not everyone sees or hears things the same, and there are those who prefer Jazz that may be venturesome but seldom swings or reveals an emotional center of gravity. It’s true, there are times when vibraphonist Mattias Ståhl and his cohorts rush breathlessly forward, as on “Plüstre” or “Hard,” and many feverish notes are played, but there’s a randomness about them that leaves one (this one, at least) wondering where the backbone is. More persuasive are the rhythmic “Zinken,” delicate “Solsång” and groovy “Swebus,” but even here there is no palpable sense of excitement. On the plus side, these are four accomplished musicians (saxophonist Milder is not unknown here in the States) who obviously have a purpose in mind, even though it may not be readily clear to everyone who listens. Perhaps the goal is nothing more elaborate than being true to themselves, and one can hardly blame them for that. On the other hand, it doesn’t make the music more charming or easier on the ear. This album of eleven originals by Ståhl (he and Milder co–authored “Oppsummere”) is one that you’ll definitely have to sample for yourself, as we can do no more than describe in general terms, as we’ve endeavored to do here, what the listener may plausibly anticipate.
Contact: Dragon Records, P.O. Box 4068, SE–102, 62 Stockholm, Sweden. Web site, www.dragonrecords.se; e–mail firstname.lastname@example.org