Further proof that Europe may in fact be jazz's next frontier, this Scandinavian quartet featuring David Stackenäs on guitar, Fredrik Nordström on tenor and alto saxophone, Filip Augustson on bass, and Thomas Strønen on drums excites with a modern bop streak of grooves and beats on SURD's Live at Glenn Miller Café
. Though the Swedish café's name may be a relic of yesteryear's jazz, the album's six songs are lively, intricate, and, most importantly, contemporary in execution.
The frontline guitar-saxophone interactions create an exceptional and unique scene of electric and acoustic strokes of jazz. Supported in rhythm and spirit by bassist Augustson and drummer Strønen, the album's bop-oriented songs are occasionally doused with the volatile and unruly waters of free jazz, creating music that initially invites with structure, though eventually satisfies with its creative freedoms.
Except for Steve Lacy's "38," the compositions are all originals by various members of the group, with Nordström's "3 6 4 U" and "Head P" gravitating towards a more pensive, somber core. The nearly sixteen-minute group piece "Bye, Bye Teddy" is the album's most daring exercise, a free-forming tune that luckily adheres to the group's overall vision to excite with equal parts of the past and the present.
All the members on this group are young (Stackenäs, at 31, is the eldest). To hear jazz of this caliber, clearly indebted in the American traditions of bop and swing, performed by young men across the Atlantic is a delightful and promising sign for our music.