All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Bjorn Samuelsson: Jazz Formation: A Letter To Ake Persson

Ken Kase By

Sign in to view read count
Trombone enthusiasts can rejoice at the arrival of a new voice on an instrument which has been unjustly under-represented in the jazz canon. Regardless of Björn Samuelsson's considerable technique, fine intonation and improvisational prowess, the arrival of his debut disc featuring a quartet with trombone out front is likely to raise a few eyebrows.

Jazz Formation pays tribute to Swedish trombonist Åke Persson, a talent whose name might be unfamiliar to many jazz fans but whose reputation in European circles places him alongside J.J. Johnson and Curtis Fuller. He earned this reputation in the fifties and sixties backing many visiting American jazz luminaries and cutting just a few sides between 1951 and 1959. He died in 1975, one year before Samuelsson was born.

Samuelsson manages to pay homage to this little known but obviously influential musician without sacrificing his own budding and distinct voice. The disc kicks off with one of two Persson compositions, "Blue 3/4," in which Samuelsson takes a down-home stride with a natural feeling for the blues. The quartet's reading of "What Is This Thing Called Love" is bursting with energy as Samuelsson channels the elder trombonist's hard bop roots amidst the rhythm section's modernist twists.

"Nassie Goreng" and "Mountain Music" find Samuelsson flexing considerable muscle as an arranger, using overdubbed trombones to emulate an entire section. The latter piece features Åke Persson's recorded solo arranged in four parts. Samuelsson contributes six of the twelve selections, including the darkly beautiful "Statement" and warm, open "Alone at Last."

The second Persson composition, "Monotones," shows how dangerous the rhythm section can be when provoked by high-octane swing. Samuelsson's "A Done Deal" and "License to Chill" (the latter complete with a trippy companion remix) finds the quartet pursuing more modern sounds, lest the listener be tricked into thinking that its approach is consistently retro. Far from it. The influence of Persson's playing manifests itself as a launching point for a wide range of styles and ideas that are uniquely Samuelsson's domain. One can trace a direct lineage from the post-war trombonists' newfound facility for the vocabulary of bebop to Samuelsson's capacity for the demands of the modern language of jazz. It is a smooth transition—one worth noting, especially by those who might deign to impose constrictions of genre on his work.

Björn Samuelsson's debut promises great things. It will be interesting to see if this particular group of musicians will be able to stay together long enough to develop an even deeper rapport, as all four share an uncommon empathy and sense of fun. With Jazz Formation, Samuelsson proves himself to be a first-rate musician with exceptional creative powers.

Track Listing: Blue in

Personnel: Bj

Title: Jazz Formation: A Letter to Ake Persson | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Imogena


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read All Melody CD/LP/Track Review
All Melody
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 23, 2018
Read The Future is Female CD/LP/Track Review
The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Hunters & Scavengers CD/LP/Track Review
Hunters & Scavengers
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 23, 2018
Read Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow CD/LP/Track Review
Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 22, 2018
Read Transatlantic CD/LP/Track Review
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 22, 2018
Read "Soulmation" CD/LP/Track Review Soulmation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Zero" CD/LP/Track Review Zero
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 4, 2018
Read "Short Notice" CD/LP/Track Review Short Notice
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "For the Love of You" CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Anybody's Spring" CD/LP/Track Review Anybody's Spring
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Meerkat Parade" CD/LP/Track Review Meerkat Parade
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 20, 2018