Sparkling, straight–ahead contemporary Jazz by a quartet of swinging Swedes who could easily hold their own with most such groups on this side of the pond. Trumpeter Ulf Adåker, now in his late 50s, is best–known (in Sweden) as leader or co–leader of the fusion group EGBA, for whom he also served as composer / arranger, as a mainstay of the Swedish Radio Jazz Group and as a teacher at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. He brings all that experience to bear on this splendid album, forsaking fusion in favor of warmly responsive versions of four well–known standards, four of his own compositions, two others (“Gallop’s Gallop,” “Reflections”) by Thelonious Monk and one (“A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing”) by Billy Strayhorn. After leading off with Brooks Bowman’s “East of the Sun,” Adåker turns to Monk and the other standards before introducing two of his works, “La Mano” and “And More . . .,” caressing Strayhorn’s “Flower” and wrapping things up with his probing “Cape of Good Hope” and bustling “Loose Changes” (the last based on Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”). Adåker, whose luminous sound is complemented by excellent chops and persuasive ideas, plays open all the way except for a dreamy Miles–like rendition of Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow.” His traveling companions, Stenson, Danielsson and Löfcrantz, are as steadfast and supportive as tempered steel girders. Even though Monk and the other renowned American composers make the first half of the album somewhat stronger than the second, everything is well above average and Adåker’s compositions, if less impressive than those that precede them, are engaging in their own way and well worth hearing. Recording quality is first–rate, as is the playing time. Adåker’s group probably won’t ensnare many listeners here in the States, but it should.
Contact: STIM / Svensk Musik (Swedish Music Center), Box 27327, SE–102 54, Stockholm, Sweden. Phone +46 8 783 88 00. E–mail email@example.com; web site, www.mic.stim.se