106

The John Hogman Quartet: Reduce Speed

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
The John Hogman Quartet: Reduce Speed Having heard Gerry Mulligan, Lars Gullin, Nick Brignola, Pepper Adams, Serge Chaloff, Ronnie Cuber, Gary Smulyan, Cecil Payne, Jack Nimitz, Claire Daly and so many other superb baritone saxophonists, I never thought I'd encounter another one who'd adrenalize my senses the way they could. And now I stand corrected. Trust me, Sweden's John Högman proves on Reduce Speed that he deserves at least to be mentioned in the same breath with those acclaimed standard-bearers.

So who is this guy and where did he come from? From Uppsala, actually, and even though Högman has been playing baritone for about two decades he has done so mostly with big bands (Bosse Broberg and others), and this splendid and long-overdue album marks his recorded debut as leader of a smaller group. It's a great way to start a "second career," embracing as it does a dozen blue-chip songs (all but two written by Högman) and wonderful blowing by everyone in the group. In terms of longevity, Högman has recently passed the half-century mark, and to judge from the photos in the booklet, the others in his quartet appear to be about half his age (or younger). But don't let that throw you; Mikael Skoglund is a phenomenal young pianist, while bassist Martin Sjöstedt and drummer Calle Rasmusson aren't more than a small step behind, and they give Högman all the help he needs.

It could be the Swedish influence, but to me, Högman leans more toward Gullin than anyone else in terms of technique and temperament, as he plays with Gullinesque lyricism and emotion albeit with a heavier sound. Like Gullin, Högman is a writer of considerable talent, even though he freely admits that the opening number on Reduce Speed, a tune he shaped to sing to his children when they are sad or in pain, bears a striking resemblance to the standard "Crazy He Calls Me."

Besides his own handsome compositions, Högman performs Billy Strayhorn's "The Intimacy of the Blues" and the Irish folk song "Molly Malone," which he fell in love with while hearing it performed by singer/guitarist Josh White on Swedish television. Among Högman's tunes, all of which are impressive, I found "The Teaser," "Let's Play" and "Minor Twist" especially charming.

In an odd twist of fate, Högman switched from alto sax to baritone while on tour with the Gogge Hedrenius Big Band in the mid-'80s when the guest artist—none other than Pepper Adams—was unable to make the gig. Högman sat in for Pepper and has never looked back. If there were ever any doubts that he'd made the right choice, Reduce Speed should quickly lay them to rest. Thomas Högman and the baritone sax were made for each other. As for playing in smaller groups, he really should do that more often.


Track Listing: I'll Be There for You; The Teaser; Reduce Speed; Let's Play; In the Morning Mist; Perennial Problem; The Intimacy of the Blues; Friday's Dilemma; Minor Twist; Bluegaloo; Long John Silver; Molly Malone (58:56).

Personnel: John Hgman, baritone sax; Mikael Skoglund, piano, Fender Rhodes; Martin Sjstedt, bass; Calle Rasmusson, drums.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Sittel Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Together, As One" CD/LP/Track Review Together, As One
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Moon Trio: Earth-Time" CD/LP/Track Review Moon Trio: Earth-Time
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Inner Circle" CD/LP/Track Review Inner Circle
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "From the Heart" CD/LP/Track Review From the Heart
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!