That Swedish bassist Lars Danielsson is a pliant, flexible player who's worked with American artists including John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny, and Dave Liebman, and notable European names such as Eivind Aarset, Ulf Wakenius, and Nils Petter Molvaer isn't much of a secretat least, not to audiences on the east side of the Atlantic. In North America he's less of a proven entity, a status that deserves to change on the basis of Signature Edition 3, the third in ACT's series of artist-chosen compilations that, thus far, has shone well-deserved spotlights on guitarists Wakenius and Nguyên Lê. For Danielsson's two-disc collection, the busy bassist culls material from his own ACT releases dating as far back as 2004's softly orchestral Libera Me and as recent as 2009's outstanding Tarantella, featuring a superb multinational group with British guitarist John Parricelli, Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick, American percussionist Eric Harland, and Polish pianist Leszek Możdżer.
But like his fellow Signature Series compatriots, Danielsson isn't restricted to just his work on the venerable German label, whose head and producer, Siggi Loch, is celebrating his 50th year in the business, though he also includes guest stints from ACT releases by singers Youn Sun Nah (the gently melancholic "The Linden," from 2009's Voyage) and Viktoria Tolstoy (the equally minor-keyed but more up-tempo "From Above," from 2005's My Swedish Heart). Danielsson dips back as far back as the folkloric yet modal "Folk Song (To All Children)," from Poems (Dragon, 1991)another transatlantic date, this time with Liebman, fellow Swede Bobo Stenson on piano, and Norwegian drum icon Jon Christensenand the profoundly lyrical ballad, "Far North," featuring the same group and from the 1994 Dragon album of the same name.
Danielsson's familiarity and reverence for the American jazz tradition shouldn't be in question; certainly not on the basis of "Little Jump," a Metheny-esque track from Origo (Curling Legs, 1997) that quickly reveals its guitar protagonist to be Abercrombie rather than Metheny the moment Danielsson and drummer Adam Nussbaum dive into some fiercely swinging support. Danielsson also takes a brief but telling solo that says all that needs to be said about his ability in a more mainstream setting. On singer Cæcilie Norby's "Afterglow," from her Slow Fruit (Enja, 2009), Danielsson proves his ability to make simple but perfect choices throughout this smoky, late night ballad.
But what shines through most vividly on Signature Edition 3 are the bassist's lyrical compositional bent (all but two of its songs are written/co-written and arranged by Danielsson), his multi-instrumental skills (in addition to bass, playing cello, piano, vibraphone, and more), and an experimental nature that nevertheless remains deeply rooted in melody and no shortage of European classicism. Whether it's the interactive piano/bass duo of 2007's Pasodoble, the combination of Nu Jazz electronica and vivid orchestration on Mélange Bleu from the same year, or the more oblique "December," from European Voices (Dragon, 1995), Danielsson is clearly a force to be reckoned with on many fronts. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger...Signature Edition 3 has it all, and then some, proving Danielson worthy of greater attention on both sides of the Atlantic.
CD1: Eden; Song For E.; December; Pasodoble; Afterglow; Suffering; The Linden; Folk Song (To All Children); Cornelia; Ironside; Daughter's Joy; Falling Down. CD2: Asta; Bird Through The Wall; From Above; Les Coulisse; Tarantella; Both Sides Now; Bibor No Azora; The Madonna; Praying; Little Jump; Hymn; Far North.
Lars Danielsson: bass (CD1, CD2#1-6, CD2#8-12), cello (CD1#1, CD1#2, CD1#6, CD2#4, CD2#6, CD2#7), vibraphone (CD1#5), piano (CD1#10, CD2#7), marimba (CD2#2), celeste (CD2#2), synthesizer (CD2#11); Leszek Możdżer: piano (CD1#1, CD1#4, CD1#11, CD2#1, CD2#5, CD2#8, CD2#9); Zohar Fresco: percussion (CD1#1), drums (CD2#1); Julian Wasserfuhr: trumpet (CD1#2); Roman Wasserfuhr: piano (CD1#2); Anders Kjellberg: drums (CD1#2, CD1#5), cymbals (CD1#6); Nils Landgren: trombone (CD1#2); Marilyn Mazur: drums and percussion (CD1#3, CD1#12); Michael Reissler: bass clarinet (CD1#3); Joakim Milder: saxophones (CD1#3, CD1#12), bass recorder (CD1#12); Nils Petter Molvær: trumpet (CD1#3, CD2#2); Tobias Sjögren: guitar (CD1#3, CD1#12); Eivind Aarset: guitar (CD1#3, CD1#10, CD1#12); Cæcilie Norby: vocal (CD1#5, CD1#10); Carsten Dahl: piano (CD1#5, CD1#6); Hans Ulrik: saxophone (CD1#5); Göran Kroon: vibraphone (CD1#5); David Firman: conductor (CD1#5); Xavier Desandre-Navarre: percussion (CD1#6, CD1#7, CD1#10); DR Danish Radio Concert Orchestra (CD1#5, CD1#6, CD1#9, CD2#2, CD2#6); Frans Rasmussen: conductor (CD1#6, CD1#9, CD2#2, CD2#6); Youn Sun Nah: vocals (CD1#7); Ulf Wakenius: guitar (CD1#7, CD2#3, CD2#7, CD2#11); David Liebman: soprano saxophone (CD1#8, CD2#12), wooden flute (CD1#8); Bobo Stenson: piano (CD1#8, CD2#12); Jon Christensen: drums (CD1#8, CD2#2, CD2#4, CD2#6, CD2#12), percussion (CD1#10, CD2#2, CD2#4); Anders Eggen: drums (CD1#10); Gustaf Ljunggren: synthesizer (CD1#10); Jan Bang: samples (CD1#10, CD2#4), livesampling (CD1#10, CD2#4); Pål "Strangefruit" Nyhus: vinyl channeling (CD1#10); Copenhagen Concert Orchestra (CD1#10, CD2#4); Henrik Vagn Christensen: conductor (CD1#10, CD2#4); Viktoria Tolstoy: vocals (CD2#3); Jakob Karlzon: piano (CD2#3); Peter Danemo: drums (CD2#3); strings (CD2#3); Bugge Wesseltoft: piano (CD2#4); John Parricelli: guitar (CD2#5); Eric Harland: percussion (CD2#5), drums (CD2#8); Mathias Eick: trumpet (CD2#8); John Abercrombie: guitar (CD2#10); Adam Nussbaum: drums (CD2#10); Raymond Karlsson: drums (CD2#11).
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