From Sweden comes an electric groove that scores from the first note. Bassist Johannes Zetterberg pulls together a small, variable ensemble that easily shows the influence of artists who preceded him with Luna Nueva.
Born to musical parents, Zetterberg has had a taste of many classifications of music, including a wide range of popular styles from the '60s into the '90s. Among his jazz icons are Chick Corea, Weather Report, Allan Holdsworth, The Brecker Brothers and Pat Metheny Group. In addition to bass, Zetterberg plays keyboards and synths. Saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who has toured and recorded with Chick Corea's Elektric Band and The Rippingtons, makes a cameo on one track.
"Thrill Minute" is aptly named. With Erik Linder on guitars and Jens Flippson on alto saxophone carrying the melody, this selection has an air of The Rippingtons meet Chick Corea Elektric Band, with Jonas Isaksson delivering a guitar solo worthy of either group. Zetterberg's bass line is solid and drummer Aron Mellergardh even shows a touch of Dave Weckl. Yet comparisons are only in the style of play; the song is completely original.
"Quintana Roo" features more of the same, with a style that, while modern, is a throwback to early fusion efforts. Arvid Svenungsson's synth solo helps cement that feeling, as Zetterberg explores the higher range of his bass during a middle solo, softly underscored by drums and keyboard.
Marienthal plays alto on "Adrenochrome," a high-energy piece featuring several rapid-fire sequences that engage more than one instrument. Marienthal is solid, particularly during his solo, and Zetterberg plays both fretted and fretless basses, with Mellergardh punctuating key points with tom rolls.
Zetterberg spent about two years on the project, his debut as a leader. He composed all nine songs, though fans of the Yellowjackets and Spyro Gyra may recognize some borrowed phrases, as the music created by these groups is among that which inspired Luna Nueva.
Track Listing: Thrill Minute; Another Exit; Quintana Roo; Luna Nueva (Only a Dream); Splinter; Adrenochrome; Past Tense Pt. 1; Past Tense Pt. 2; Seven Summits; Tierra del Fuego.
Personnel: Johannes Zetterberg: bass (1-3, 5, 6, 8, 9), keyboards and programming, fretless bass (4, 6, 7); Erik Linder: guitars (1-8); Jens Flipsson: alto saxophone (1-5, 8); Arvid Svenungsson: additional keyboards (1-3, 6-8), electric piano (1), synth solo (1, 3, 8), loops (2, 6, 7), synth melody (6); Jonas Isaksson: guitar solo (1); Aron Mellergardh: drums, timbales (1, 9), percussion programming (1, 4, 5, 7), percussion loop (2, 3, 7); Jay Oliver: synth solo (2); Andreas Ekstedt: percussion (3, 6, 8, 9); Jonathan Fritzen: electric piano (4); Calle Stalenbring: guitar solo (5); Eric Marienthal: alto saxophone (6); Jason Rebello: piano solo (6); Otmaro Ruiz: Rhodes and synth solo (9).
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.