Swedish-born, Boston-based jazz guitarist Bjorn Wennas' debut CD, Early Summer Sketch starts out with a sizzle. "Off" is an up-tempo jaunt with a memorable melody, stinging guitar chops, and crisp sax/guitar unison. Wennas' solo has a tang to it as it dances with his band's bubbling rhythm. The brooding gem "Early Summer Sketch" slows things down and features some of the disc's best sax/guitar interplay.
The CD is touted as "contemporary jazz with a rock and pop sensibility," and with "Mind Games", the sound goes perhaps too far in that "pop" direction with Carmen Marisco's wordless vocals that over-sweeten the sound, in spite of the sharp sting of Wennas' guitar solo. "For Bjorn" bops along with Kristof Bacso's sax solo doing a contained burn in front of jouncing rhythm, leading into more inventive guitar licks by Wennas.
The closer, "Love Song," is a tune written by Wennas, featuring lyrics from an e.e. cummings poem sung by Carmen Marisco. Marisco's voice is pleasant – and the assumption here is the projected appeal is more pop than jazz – but it doesn't add much to the mix. The set really needed not another ballad here, but something up-tempo to close things out with some pop.
A fine debut; a nicely interactive band with a definite future.
Track Listing: Off, Early Summer Sketch, Mind Games, For Bjorn, Love Song
Personnel: Bjorn Wennas, guitar; Carmen Marisco, vocals (tracks 3 & 5) Ziv Ravitz, drums; Jeff Denson, bass;
Kristof Basco, saxes
I was first exposed to jazz as a baby. When I was a child, my parents regularly played classic jazz, i.e., Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Holiday, Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Montgomery, Silver, etc. I vividly remember sitting in front of the stereo as a kid, rocking back and forth to jazz, so the music is embedded in me
I was first exposed to jazz as a baby. When I was a child, my parents regularly played classic jazz, i.e., Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Holiday, Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Montgomery, Silver, etc. I vividly remember sitting in front of the stereo as a kid, rocking back and forth to jazz, so the music is embedded in me. As a life-long jazz lover, I eventually became a jazz educator and producer/host of a very popular jazz radio program in Los Angeles, California.
I love jazz because it is so free. I can think, feel, and dream to jazz, and it allows my mind to flow and expand, musically and otherwise. I also love jazz because it, much like other forms of music, allows opportunities to bring people from all walks of life together. What makes jazz more significant to me, though, is its historical significance; that is, how jazz served, in part, as a method of bringing communities together, a cultural/social/spiritual conduit.