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Susanna Lindeborg's Mwendo Dawa: Live in Goteborg

AAJ Staff By

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Susanna Lindeborg is a Swedish pianist and composer who has been very active on the Scandinavian jazz scene since the late seventies. She was originally a classical pianist but developed a strong interest in improvised music and has since developed a quite expansive definition of what improvised music may mean. Her longstanding outfit, Mwendo Dawa, plays from a well of stylistic sounds that includes post-bop, the avant-garde, and electronica, as Lindeborg has chosen to integrate innovations such as drum-and-bass patterns, not to mention the synthesizer as a solo voice, into her music. Lindeborg is noted in fact for her featured work on synths- it is very tasteful and it adds a shade of (timely!)futurism to music that is otherwise acoustic and rooted in the jazz tradition.

As for the collaborators in Mwendo Dawa, please note first of all the presence of Ove Johansson, a very fine tenor player coming from Trane who is also very active on the Scandinavian scene. He has a burnished tone, is very calm in his delivery, and moreover- his abilities as a writer are well-shown here. Jimmi Roger Pedersen and David Sundby are the bassist and drummer, respectively, and have served in Lindeborg's rhythm section ably for years.

Onto the music program itself. This was recorded live at Goteborg University in Sweden. There is "up" music of faster tempi and a more intense approach here, but there is also ruminating, more "intriguing" type music as well. The opening number is a theme with an intentful 3- note bass vamp and a Greg Osby-like melody ("Logic Steps" by Johansson); it's very sharp. Whereas, "Kind of Silence" is an excellent piece of the "ruminating" variety which features Lindeborg and Johansson at their most impressionistic. It is on this cut actually one perceives strong similarities in Lindeborg's playing to American Geri Allen, both in soloing and accompaniment. When Lindeborg solos with the rhythm section behind her though, it is worth noting how "together" they sound- Lindeborg is free to be let space in because Pedersen and Sundby keep the void from seeming like that, a void.

Other cuts favor a more free approach, such as "Antitime Nr 1" in which Lindeborg plays a long free solo that gradually builds layers and then becomes an ambidextrous festival of staggered intervals. She then interrupts herself on a very "airy" synth and proceeds to play epic, symphonic type cascades on that instrument. Her solos on synth, it should be mentioned, are consistently interesting and throw a different light on keys+rhythm section altogether.

Another wrinkle: "Omkring middagen" is a feature for the drummer David Sundby which develops into a call-and-response conversation between Johansson and Lindeborg which builds in intensity all the way out. "Ostinato Movements" by contrast is more of a feature for Johansson and features his best work on the record- emotive but "technically inspired" playing is here.

I should finally note the track "Den forladte" as it is the veritable feature for Ms. Lindeborg herself, beginning with a long rubato section played by her. She displays here both the obvious pedigree of her classical musicianship and her definite penchant for improvised music- Mr. Lindeborg understands freedom as well as discipline, this is clear.

This is a record that is full of rewards for the attentive listener. It contains both music of a free character and of a more post-bop vein, played with conviction and assurance, and with plenty of nuance. Of special note is the thoughtful and enhancing use of synthesizer by Ms. Lindeborg; may she be a recognized pioneer on synth as a solo instrument, yet. She is a household name on the Scandinavian scene, as is her group Mwendo Dawa, but is still awaiting greater recognition from listeners worlwide; this is good a place for new listeners to start as any!

Contact: LJ Records-

Box 9, SE-310 42 Haverdal, Sweden.

Track Listing: 1) Logic Steps 2) Nej prov igen 3) Breathing Clusters 4) Kind of Silence 5) Omkring middagen 6) Antitime Nr 1 7) Ostinato Movements 8) Den forladte 9) Between the Loops.

Personnel: Susanna Lindeborg- Piano; Ove Johansson- Tenor saxophone; Jimmi Roger Pedersen- Bass; David Sundby- Drums.

Title: Live in Goteborg | Year Released: 2001


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