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The title of this release has a type of finality to it, especially considering the somberness of the tunes therein. This is meticulously crafted jazz, atmospheric and full of spare landscapes. Pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin and the wonderfully restless drummer Paul Motian play with imagination and economy, Stenson with a facility and tenderness that recalls Bill Evans, a similarity driven home by the presence of Motian, an Evans alum. During a recent gig at Birdland, the trio played selections from the disc, navigating the challenging tunes without wasting a single note.
"Send In the Clowns begins with a burst of color and Stenson's interpretation of the lush melody deepens the poignancy of Sondheim's classic show tune. "Rowan practically bursts at the seams, especially with the urgency of Motian's ride cymbal; "Alfonsina is a tender waltz that sounds like "Autumn Leaves trying to escape from a chrysalis. Stenson plays his bluesiest solo on the disc on "There Comes A Time, and Motian's cymbal flourishes frame Stenson's dark interior dialogue on "Song About Earth.
"Seli is another solemn tune with Stenson playing his most splendid runs before the song ends abruptly. The trio finally gets loose on Ornette Coleman's "Race Face, the only piece not played at a measured pace. Stenson grooves like a champ, Jormin plucks with fury, and Motian is at his most brilliantly effusive.
Track Listing: Send In the Clowns; Rowan; Alfonsina; There Comes A Time; Song About Earth; Seli; Goodbye; Music For A While; Allegretto Rubato; Jack of Clubs; Sudan; Queer Street; Triple Play; Race Face.
Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano;
Anders Jormin: bass;
Paul Motian: drums.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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