By many accounts, Sweden officially caught the jazz bug in 1933 when Louis Armstrong stormed the stages of Stockholm. Although initially inspired by American artists, Swedes soon branched out into novel fusions of folksong, jazz and world musics. Government subsidies, grassroots fan societies, flagship clubs (Stockholm's Fasching, Gothenburg's Nefertiti, Malmö's Jeriko) and festivals (Umeå is the oldest) all bear witness to a thriving, eclectic scene.
Tenor saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar is a prime example of talent-deserving-wider-recognition, a hard-hitting post-Coltrane stylist of magnetism and originality. Från Och Med Herr, his latest release on Moserobie with Torbjörn Gulz (piano), Torbjörn Zetterberg (bass) and Jonas Holgersson (drums), is a highly cohesive effort that finds fresh fish to fry from the jazz mainstream. "Morsan å Farsan"'s rising chromatic bass line spirals endlessly upward like a staircase in an Escher painting; on "Bristol Scream" the tenor simmers with fast, fluid lines that retain a certain roughness around the edges, buoyed up by the rhythm section's infectious excitement.
Correction, comprised of Sebastian Bergström (piano), Joacim Nyberg (bass) and Emil Åstrand-Melin (drums), is a youngblood trio whose sound draws on deep jazz roots even as it exposes new shoots. Two Nights in April is culled from dates at Stockholm's Glenn Miller Café and Norrköping's Crescendo, the first a somewhat more subdued set with accessible rock rhythms, the second in a rowdier, raucous mood. The rhythm section clearly enjoys good old-fashioned swingand they do it wellbut their freer flights of fancy are equally effective, as on "Kognitiv Dissonans," where the low lines of the bass and piano blend seamlessly, or on "The First Waltz," the piano climbing in clustered scales, the drums dynamically restrained, tapering down finally to a lonely bass vamp.
Mats Gustafsson (alto, baritone saxophones) and Per-Åke Holmlander (tuba, cimbasso) lead Swedish Azz, a progressive 'repertory' ensemble that revisits jazz classics from Sweden's Golden '50s-60s. Jazz På Svenska, with Kjell Nordeson (vibes), dieb13 (turntables, electronics) and Eric Carlsson (drums), is a live set featuring chestnuts by pianist Lars Werner and baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin. Here the classics are reimagined in a futuristic dream of distorted imagery and slow-motion soundscapes: slamming screen doors, steam trains, motorcycle revs, cat fights, owl hoots, Hendrix-esque whammied feedback freak-outs, rippling sheet metal, slamming car brakes, feral moans, fire alarms, manic sprinkler systems, ringing cash registers, scratchy record needlesall bookended by romantic, Ellingtonian melodies.
Tracks & Personnel
Från Och Med Herr
Tracks: Sweet Home Snake City; Blau; October is a Long Time Too; Rat Beat; Morsan å Farsan; Bristol Scream.
Personnel: Jonas Kullhammar: tenor saxophone; Torbjörn Gulz: piano; Torbjörn Zetterberg: bass; Jonas Holgersson: drums.
Two Nights in April
Tracks: Sthlm-Brln; Gyllene Tigern; Old River; Natttåg; Jannowitzbrücke; Mig Fryser; Året är 1520; Uncle; One for Mr. Mahall; Kognitiv Dissonans; M50 Björnson; The First Waltz.
Personnel: Sebastian Bergström: piano; Joacim Nyberg: bass; Emil Ǻstrand-Melin: drums.
Jazz På Svenska
Tracks: Drottningholm Ballad; Danny's Dream; Silhouette.
Personnel: Mats Gustafsson: alto, baritone saxophones & live electronics; dieb13: turntables; Per-Ake Holmlander: tuba & cimbasso; Erik Carlsson: drums & selected percussion; Kjell Nordeson: vibes.