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Torbjörn Zetterberg: Och Den Stora Frågan

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Swedish double bassist Torbjorn Zetterberg did not record as a bandleader for more than seven years. Zetterberg, a member of the Jonas Kullhammar Quartet and a prominent figure in Nordic jazz since the late nineties, experienced an existential crisis at the peak of his busy, successful career. He felt bored and unsatisfied, so in 2010 he decided to leave city life and moved to a Buddhist temple without his instrument. He stayed at the temple for a year and still spends half of his time there.

Och Den Stora Frågan ("And the Big Question" in Swedish) is a welcome return. Zetterberg employs musicians who played with him before, most of them on his last album as a bandleader, Skildrar Kvinnans Kamp (Moserobie, 2008). He adds Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva, who collaborated with him on a set of impressive improvised dialogues, Almost Tomorrow (Clean Feed, 2013) and drummer Jon Fält, a member of pianist Bobo Stenson's trio.

Zetterberg states that he now feels more and more that he actually lives his dream, as he should have since the beginning of his career. Indeed Och Den Stora Frågan is charged with joyful urgency, shiny optimism and confident flowing energy, despite the doubts and uncertainties that accompany any creative, artistic process. His tight arrangements with the swift shifts in rhythm and colors bring to mind the great bands of Charles Mingus. All these qualities are immediately summarized in the opening, 30-second piece "En Bra Start På Dagen."

Other pieces highlight Zetterberg as a resourceful and thoughtful composer, with a gift for sketching an evocative, even exotic story, as on "Världen Är Sig Aldrig Lik" and "Visa Från Mitten av Universum." The powerful reed section—Santos, trombonist Mats Äleklint and sax players Kullhammar and Alberto Pinton—produce myriad colors. Zetterberg uses the same strong, opinionated musicians to question basic composition on the open-form piece,"Mästare av Vad."

"Ingen Tid Till Ingenting" is a concise, muscular and fast post-bop piece that stresses the ensemble as a tight, massive unit. "DO-DODO- DO-DO-DO" and "1+1=1" continue in the same vein featuring brilliant, passionate solos. The clarinets of Kullhammar and Pinton add a fragile, gentle colors to the lyrical,"Hyllning Till Ovissheten," that also features a beautiful solo by Zetterberg.

Brilliant, profound and inspiring.

Track Listing: En Bra Start På Dagen; Världen Är Sig Aldrig Lik; Mästare av Vad; Ingen Tid Till Ingenting; DO-DODO-DO-DO-DO; Hyllning Till Ovissheten; 1+1=1; Visa Från Mitten av Universum.

Personnel: Torbjörn Zetterberg: double bass, percussion; Susana Santos Silva: trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion; Mats Äleklint: trombone, percussion; Jonas Kullhammar: tenor & baritone saxophones, clarinet, flute, percussion; Alberto Pinton: baritone saxophone, clarinet, flute, piccolo flute, percussion; Jon Fält: drums, percussion.

Title: Och Den Stora Frågan | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Moserobie

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