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On Silent Room, the Swedish quartet of bassist Nils Olmedal, drummer Jon Falt, trombonist Mats Aleklint, and tenor saxophonist Joakim Milder tackles a program consisting almost entirely of Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman compositions. According to Milder, "we try to use the compositions as starting points for free flowing, intuitive structures more than rigid interpretations of the original recordings." While the results may indeed be labelled as "free jazz," the music on Silent Room is also melodic, witty, and accessible.
Most of the improvising here is thematic, using Monk and Ornette's melodies as points of departure, although on "Lorraine" and "Light Blue," the group more faithfully adheres to the compositional and harmonic structures. The musicians may solo individually or contrapuntally. Rather than keep straight time, bass and drums more often join in the melodic flow or comment on it. But swing is never far from anybody's mind. Bass lines and drum accents are dispensed in a manner suggesting swing and maintaining the tempo. Sometimes, as on the bridge to "Lorraine" or parts of "Turnaround," swinging time surges forward with every beat expressly stated rather than implied.
Among the horns, Milder emerges as a muscular tenor player who largely foreswears the reliance on noise effects that characterizes the work of many "avant-garde" saxophonists. He has a robust warm sound and he draws liberally on blues phrases. Aleklint is an expressive trombonist whose lines are filled with smears and groans. All four musicians engage in deeply empathetic improvisation. These players listen to each other, playing lines that interlock. They talk to each other rather than at each other.
Jazz outside the United States has matured. Musicians from other nations and cultures now create on a level commensurate with most American musicians, and Silent Room is yet another instructive example.
Track Listing: Lorraine, Light Blue, Congeniality/Turnaround, Sadness, Worry Later, Bla Anemoner, Played Twice, Peace, Silent Room, Evidence.
Personnel: Nils Olmedal, bass; Jon Falt, drums; Mats Aleklint, trombone; Joakim Milder, tenor saxophone.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.