173

Oval: Sten Sandell Trio

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Oval: Sten Sandell Trio Busy Chicago multi-reed man Ken Vandermark suggests in his liner notes of Oval, the third release by the Sten Sandell Trio, that the Swedish pianist and composer may represent the future of the piano in contemporary and improvised music. Like other pianists of his generation, Sandell is influenced by the innovations of Cecil Taylor but brings many more ingredients to his music, such as the theories of John Cage and Morton Feldman, classical musical elements from India and Japan, folk music from Sweden, electronics, voice, and an idiosyncratic approach to the piano that often uses extended percussive timbral capabilities.

Sandell often works with free improvising ensembles, most notably with the Swedish trio Gush, (reed player Mats Gustafsson and drummer Raymond Strid) whom he has recorded and performed with since 1988, as well as other notable European improvisers such as Evan Parker and Barry Guy.

Oval was recorded beautifully at the Taktlos Festival in Switzerland in June, 2005, and featured Sandell with fellow Swedish bassist Johan Berthling and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. All three musicians demonstrate the same exemplary high level of communication and creativity that characterized their earlier releases, Standing Wave (Sofa, 2000) and Flat Iron (Sofa, 2002). Throughout this live set they supply a convincing answer to Vandermark's musing as to why one would choose to play non-commercial music in an inconsiderate climate. The trio explores so many fascinating sonic possibilities within this format that Vandermark's question becomes redundant.

The velocity and density of Sandell's playing at the beginning of the first piece, "Ovala Takter I," is an obvious continuation of Taylor's legacy, but Sandell navigates this trio into newer territories, using varied and complex methods such as sustain, concentrated attacks, or adding light vocals. He manages to turn aural textures into deep meditations about the possibilities of the piano, more in common with the ethereal and almost transparent playing of the British free improvisation group AMM's John Tilbury, showing the imaginative interplay between members of the trio.

The trio keeps a contemplative dynamic at the beginning of "Ovala Takter II," trying to find common threads in its timbral explorations, and reconstructing its fragile interplay. At times, Sandell's percussive piano triggers Nilssen-Love's wise use of the cymbals, creating a resonate sound between the two instruments. Berthling's low-end rumination on the bass opens "Oval Takter III," while Nilssen-Love and Sandell color his sound with abstract and slowly forming textures that linger in memory. The short and concluding piece, "Oval Ballad," suggests a gentler example

"I believe that this trio's playing gives us one more reason to live on this planet with optimism for the future," concludes Vandermark; and indeed Oval is a remarkable recording.

Track Listing: Ovala Takter I, Ovala Takter II, Ovala Takter III, Oval Ballad.

Personnel: Sten Sandell: piano, voice; Johan Berthling: doublebass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Intakt Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Right Up On CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Wanderlust CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Imagination CD/LP/Track Review Imagination
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Evolution CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017
Read On A Monday Evening CD/LP/Track Review On A Monday Evening
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "Living Water" CD/LP/Track Review Living Water
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 15, 2017
Read "Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Streams
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Live in Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Concert
by David Becker
Published: January 30, 2017
Read "Further Explorations" CD/LP/Track Review Further Explorations
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 23, 2016
Read "Planets + Persona" CD/LP/Track Review Planets + Persona
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 18, 2017
Read "Flux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!