The “opposites” in this case are co–leaders Lars Beijbom (Swedish drummer) and Erling Kroner (Danish trombonist), and while they may be poles apart in many respects, they do, thankfully, have at least one thing in common — Beijbom and Kroner are two of Europe’s foremost composer/arranger/musicians. What they have attracted are 17 first–class players, nine from Denmark, seven from Sweden and one from the U.S. to form the five–year–old Beijbom Kroner Big Band, which made its recording debut last year with Live in Copenhagen
(named “CD of the Year” by the Danish Jazz magazine, Jazz Special
). Their approach to big–band Jazz is counteractive as well, with Beijbom having listened closely to such contemporary American composers as Gil Evans, Thad Jones, Bill Holman and others, while Kroner has been greatly inspired by the music of Latin America, more specifically Argentina, an influence that is often mirrored in the impulsive rhythms and tenor of his compositions. Again! , their differing approaches complement each other well, giving the listener the aural equivalent of two splendid albums for the price of one. Beijbom wrote five of the ten selections on this second release, while Kroner drafted three and also arranged Charles Mingus’ “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” and Astor Piazzolla’s tango, “Escualo.” Kroner’s “The Forgotten Art,” absent any Latin trappings, is as Jazzy and swinging as anything on the disc with suitably warm–blooded solos by guitarist Nilsson, tenor Fridell and bassist Bodilsen. Beijbom’s compositions range from smooth (“Rise and Shine”) to sassy (“S’Far as We Know,” “The Fire Within”), funky (“Is That O.K. with You?”) to morose (“Orange Blues”). Kroner’s other pieces, “El Despelote” and “Borges—el último Tigre” are Latin in nature, the first a “tango nuevo,” the second a zamba in 3/4 time. “Peggy’s Blue Skylight” is a straight–ahead groover, Piazzolla’s “Escualo” an “unorthodox tango” whose stop–and–go cadences are in keeping wit! h their Argentine lineage. The soloists, all first–class, include Fryland (on flugel and trumpet), Epstein (the lone American), Lund, zum Vohrde, Bäcker, Lindberg, Bévort, Fridell (tenor and soprano), Nilsson, Karlzon, Bodilsen and Kroner. Beijbom anchors a solid rhythm section, while reeds and brass (led by trumpeter Gustafsson) navigate the often hazardous terrain without a misstep. An intrepid and colorful session by one of Europe’s most accomplished Jazz ensembles.
Track listing: S’Far as We Know; El Despelote; The Fire Within; The Forgotten Art; Is That O.K. with You?; Borges–el último Tigre; Rise and Shine; Orange Blues; Peggy’s Blue Skylight; Escualo (72:58).