Welcome to the debut album from the self-proclaimed "roughest jazz group in Sweden," led by trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Calle Stenman. By rough, Stenman's original Swedish text probably meant something akin to "raucous," for there is nothing untutored or blemished about the album, which has been carefully crafted. Four of the tunesthe hard boppish "Jazzkaban," post-boppish "Oh Me," bluesy "Dannes Blues" and boppish "Oslo's Nuts"are raucous in the best sense of the word. That is, they are loud, passionate and extroverted. They also swing like the clappers.
All eight tunes were written by Stenman and, good as the aforementioned quartet are, the ballads are even better, being less generic. Opener "Teater," a jaunty number with a retro vibe, features reedist Martin Wirén on clarinet and pianist Anton Dromberg alternating regular piano playing with plucking the strings with his fingers, creating a sort of wonky xylophone sound. The combination suggests a Kurt Weill tune for a Bertolt Brecht production: comic and a little worse for wear. Wilkommen, bienvenue and welcome indeed.
The other ballads are "Balladen Om En Trollkarl," a piece of late-night noir which evokes painter Edward Hopper's Nighthawks oeuvre, "Colombia," similar but less lonesome, and the elegiac closer, "Det Ar Over Nu."
The concept behind Stenman's suite of tunes is, he says, about "the masks everyday people shelter behind, protecting themselves from the outside world." You do not need to know this to enjoy Mr Sands Is In The Dressing Room. But, unlike the bull with which some composers try to dress up their tunes, this one does actually add something to the listening experience. A debut album of distinction.
Teater; Jazzkaban; Oh Me; Balladen Om En Trollkarl; Colombia; Dannes Blues; Oslo’s Nuts; Det Ar Over Nu.
Calle Stenman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Martin Wirén: tenor saxophone, clarinet (1, 7); Anton Dromberg: piano; Arvid Jullander: bass; Filip Olofsson: drums.
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