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Lars Jansson: Satori

Chris Mosey By

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Satori means "sudden enlightenment" in the Japanese Buddhist discipline known as Zen. It's something you might be wise not to claim you had experienced for fear of the head priest fetching you a whack across the shoulders with his wooden staff while shouting something deep and meaningful such as "The pine tree in the courtyard!"

Once expressed, the term Satori becomes rational and meaningless. In the same way, the word Zen itself can mean all manner of things, including "a serving tray (with legs)," "a counter for pairs of chopsticks" and "profound meditation."

Swedish jazz pianist Lars Jansson presumably prefers the last-named definition but if so he should steel himself and his shoulders in particular for the approach of the head priest. Several of his albums have titles taken from Zen Buddhism but never before has he been so bold as to claim that he and his fellow musicians have experienced satori.

Classical flautist Magnus Båge, his principal collaborator here, prefers to take a different tack. "I believe the reason why this project sees the light is our mutual feeling and love for the lyrical aspect, both in life and in music. I have come to the realization that music is after all music."

The average listener might well decide to ignore all such spiritual agonizing and simply groove (or whatever it is that jazz fans do nowadays). For, while flirting occasionally with atonality and free form, notably on "The Typewriter," and while Båge's playing can be a trifle shrill sometimes, this music is in the main readily accessible and interesting, fun even (everyone laughs at the close of "It Worked"). It merits an audience way beyond the Nordic Area.

Here's how Lars Jansson sees his work: "Jazz music is one of the few human activities that succeeds in combining responsibility for the collective with individual freedom. The great challenge for every musician is to find his personal sound, to express his true self, and at the same time, to find his role in the group. Jazz music is a fantastic art form to help us on this continuous path."

To which one should merely add the warning: Beware the man with the big stick.

Track Listing: Dad Up In A Tree; Argentina; John; Maprem; Satori; Dialog 1; Dialog 2; Dialog 3; The Typewriter (Quartet); It Worked; The Blue Tale; Autumn Again; Hope; Tender.

Personnel: Lars Jansson: piano; Magnus Båge: flute; Fredrik Jonsson: bass; Christer Sjöström: drums.

Title: Satori | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Prophone Records

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