One of the great European jazz units, the Bobo Stenson piano trio has held its eminent position among the heady stable of ECM artists since the early '70s. Stenson and drummer Jon Christensen partnered as early as 1969, appearing together on Bobo's 1971 ECM date Underwear. Recent endeavors have included the critically-acclaimed 1997 recording War Orphans and a prominent role in several of Charles Lloyd's latest albums.
Serenity is a two-disc set chock full of the kind of ominous and mystical vignettes that have always set Stenson's work apart from the norm. Original material is mixed with adaptations of the works of such diverse 20th century composers as Ives, Alban Berg, and Wayne Shorter. The mood is subdued, yet engaging, with each piece unfolding in a coherent and blossoming manner. Both Stenson and Christensen utilize color to great effect, the former with his use of dynamics and the latter with his unusual use of cymbal and drum textures.
None of the music heard here swings in any kind of conventional way. The folk and classical traditions at the core of the trio's values allow for more of a free-flowing spirit that opens up the music into new directions. While it seems tempting to make the comparison with Keith Jarrett's trio endeavors, Stenson and crew really do spring forth from a very different point of view. Indicative of the ECM tradition and Stenson's own catalog, Serenity pays many dividends through concerted and repeated exposure.
Track Listing: CD1: T., West Print, North Print, East Print, South Print, Polska of Despair II, Golden Rain,
Swee Pea, Simple & Sweet, Der Pflaumenbaum (46:08). CD2: El Mayor, Fader V (Father World),
More Cymbals, Extra Low, Die Nachtigall, Rimbaud Gedicht, Polska of Despair I, serenity,
Personnel: Bobo Stenson: piano; Anders Jormin: bass; Jon Christensen: drums.