It's hard to get a firm grip on this album. On the one hand, Swedish tenor saxophonist Kristian Harborg is a highly competent player from the Michael Brecker/Josh Redman/Chris Potter school of contemporary thought (with a hint of Sonny Rollins adding spice). On the other, Harbostatic, recorded live at the Glenn Miller Café, presumably in Stockholm, and comprised of seven of Harborg's original compositions, doesn't seem to cruise anywhere in particular, even though the leader and his rhythm section are sharp navigators who do their best to keep the craft from floundering.
While Harborg's themes are quite well written, there's a sameness about most of them, in terms of style and tempo, that can become tediousand it's a good bet the audience weren't humming any of them on the way home. Tracks 5 and 7 ("Jonas Kullhammar, "Liquored Up ) are exceptions, the former a groovy swinger with bracing solos by Harborg and pianist Ludvig Berghe, the latter a muscular stallion that enfolds Harborg's nimble 1:20 a cappella preamble before carrying the quartet past the finish line. I wish Harborg had seen fit to include at least one standard, but that was his call, not mine.
Even though there's not much here that quickened my pulse, that's a matter of opinion and no reflection on Harborg's obvious talents. When all is said and done, one must concede that the young Swede is a first-rate player, as are his companions, and their musicianship carries the day. As Ebert and Roeper would say, a cautious thumbs up. There's an ample measure of splendid music on offer, and others may find it far more pleasurable than I.
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