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Bobo Stenson Trio: Sphere


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Bobo Stenson Trio: Sphere
Bobo Stenson first rose to recognition as a sideman and in-house pianist in the late '60s with saxophonist Sonny Rollins, vibraphonist Gary Burton, and saxophonist Charles Lloyd, among many others. But it was in 1971, alongside drummer Jon Christensen, that he established his subtle, humorous shadings and folkish, earthy style with Underwear (ECM). Yet Stenson's intimate articulations are, for the most part, about as familiar to the less-than-fixated jazz world at large as one of those comets or asteroids blaze across the sky every umpteenth century or so.

That is not to say there have not been several masterful releases bearing his brand. From saxophonist Jan Garbarek's SART (ECM, 1971), to Lloyd's All My Relations (ECM, 1991), and the handful of trio recordings—War Orphans (ECM, 1998), Serenity (ECM,2000), and Contra la Indecisión (ECM, 2018) that all boast Stenson's lyrical assumptions of time, space, orbit, and feel.

So too the nine neatly curated tracks of Sphere. Working again with long-time trio mates, double bassist Anders Jormin, whose atmospheric classicism serves as both stage design and interpreter of Stenson's stoicism, and the uncluttered syncopations and whispers of drummer Jon Falt, Stenson foregoes his own original material to investigate other avenues of thought on Sphere.

Choosing instead to create an overall introspective study, Stenson engages the musings of such composers as Sibelius, (the unerringly abstract "Valsette op. 40/1"), the evolving melodics of Per Nørgård, (the opening hymn and its reprise "You Shall Plant a Tree") and the choral chamber mysteries of Sven-Erik Bäck (the crystal meditation of "Communion Psalm," and the deceptively vital "Spring" to explore and expand the trio's singular, inquisitive alchemy.

Jormin's own harmonic ellipses, "Unquestioned Answer—Charles Ives In Memoriam" and "Kingdom of Coldness," when coupled with his focused yet airy arrangements of Jung-Hee Woo's luminously delicate "The Red Flower" and late Norwegian pianist Alfred Janson's curiously playful "Ky and the Beautiful Madame Ky" complete a recording resonant and indelible. A recording that plays to all the individual strengths of Stenson, Jormin, and Fält, to make Sphere a unique and vital listening experience.

Track Listing

You Shall Plant a Tree; Unquestioned Answer--Charles Ives in Memoriam; Spring; Kingdom of Coldness; Communium Psalm; The Red Flower; Ky and Beautiful Madame Ky; Valsette, Op. 40/1; You Shall Plant a Tree.


Album information

Title: Sphere | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: ECM Records

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