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One must concede that there’s an ample amount of innovative Jazz issuing forth from Scandinavia these days. From Sweden (I think) come bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg and his Hot Five, who can best be described as enthusiastic champions of an explicitly contemporary style of Jazz that often approaches the precipice of cacophonous disarray but never quite topples over. I assume the Hot Five is from Sweden because three of its members (Zetterberg, saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar, pianist Torbjörn Gulz) are members of Kullhammar’s Swedish quartet, with drummer Daniel Fredriksson replacing Jonas Holgersson and reedman Per Johansson added. As is true of a number of other albums we’ve received from that part of the world, there are no liner notes, so one can appraise the musicians only by their music, which seems fair enough. I can’t say who the role models are, but some of what the quintet plays sounds to me like it was inspired by Charles Mingus, among others — and I’m about as partial to it as I am to his (in other words, more often than not disengaged). I cannot, on the other hand, say that it is anything less than well–played, as everyone in the Hot Five is an accomplished musician. Zetterberg’s charts (he wrote everything, hence his name on the marquee) aren’t without substance, and most are well above average. So, as the commercial used to say, where’s the beef? Mainly with the solos of Johansson and Kullhammer, which tend to rely on flashy histrionics (that is to say, squealing, squawking, growling and so on) when solicitous moderation would suffice. An exception is Kullhammar’s solo on “Chocolate White Tobleroonie,” which is well–ordered and persuasive, as are those by Zetterberg and Gulz (although it’s hard to shriek on bass or piano). Käften is definitely a mixed bag, but one we’d certainly recommend to the more adventurous listener who’s not troubled by the occasional encroachment of dissonance, as it is an otherwise well–conceived and pleasurable enterprise with much of interest to offer.
Contact: STIM / Svensk Musik (Swedish Music Center), Box 27327, SE–102 54, Stockholm, Sweden. Phone +46 8 783 88 00. E–mail firstname.lastname@example.org; web site, www.mic.stim.se