4

Sven Ake Johansson: Jazzbox

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Sven Ake Johansson: Sven Ake Johansson: Jazzbox Funny how listening to the five-CD Jazzbox by free jazz drummer Sven Ake Johansson may remind you of the British punk rock band The Clash's first hit single "Train In Vain" (1980). Like Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, Johansson's career has been one that has worked to challenge the language of American music. In The Clash's case, it was American pop and disco. For Johansson and his European colleagues (Peter Brötzmann, Manfred Schoof, Peter Kowald, and Alexander von Schlippenbach) it was the 1960's New Thing of Albert Ayler, John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy.

In the middle of recording The Clash's seminal London Calling (CBS, 1979), the rebellious punk band went about making an American-styled R&B single. "Train In Vain" sounded more American, then American singles as it shot up to number one in the States. Johansson's career has tracked the European free scene since his earliest recordings with Brotzmann—Machine Gun (FMP, 1968), Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra, Per Henrik Wallin and in his own projects. Although he branched out into musical theatre, painting and design, he has kept pace with European jazz collaborating with Andrea Neumann, Axel Dorner, Sten Sandell, Raymond Strid, and Rudi Mahall.

With Jazzbox he proffers American jazz, circa 1955, in a more compelling presentation than, well, American jazz musicians.

Heard on Vol. I and Vol. II, his Cool Quartett is easily mistaken for a Miles Davis session. Johansson's command to maintain the melody is paramount. The quartet is fronted by trumpeter Axel Dörner, known as a minimalist improviser, who has a knack for interpreting the music of Thelonious Monk, as he does in the band Die Enttäuschung, and pianist Zoran Terzic. Covering the Great American Songbook, the four, including bassist Jan Roder play George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern. Knowing the pedigree of these players, you might expect the avant-garde, but the melody doesn't fall far from the tree. The cleverness here is the simple commitment to the original song. The quartet's less is obviously more. Even the less than familiar tracks penned by Dörner (there are five) are strikingly spare and beautiful.

The quartet stretches to the Cool Sextett with the inclusion of saxophonists Tobias Delius and Henrik Waldsdorff on three tracks recorded live in 2009. In this setting the music expands and so does the presentation. Delias honks a bit, intertwining his horn with Waldsdorff as the music migrates from the studio to the club. Johansson revisits vocals on "Night In Tunisia" and "You've Changed" as he did on Hudson Riv (Grob, 2003) with his unique Swedish/German accent. His accent draws back the curtain for those mistaken into believing the music is just a reissue from the Prestige Records vaults.

The two strongest volumes might be Tune Up, a quartet with Delias, Roder, and Japanese-born, Berlin native pianist Aki Takase and the trio Candy with Dörner and bassist Joe Williamson. Takase is a proper interpreter of Monk and Duke Ellington. Her comping behind the saxophonist's blabbing horn provides a running commentary until she takes an aside of a solo on "Tangerine." The music here seems rooted in the antics of the Amsterdam's New Dutch Swing and perhaps that is the influence of Delias.

In Trio, the strength of Johansson's vision is amplified. With brushes on his drum pads, he spurs Dörner to the clearest expression of melody and the brightest music. Their double- time take on "The Way You Look Tonight" and the Sonny Rollins favorite "I'm An Old Cowhand" are as hip today as they were in 1957. The disc ends with "Stars Fell On Alabama," a song certain to stump nearly anyone taking a blindfold test. They will certainly identify the Americans Freddie Hubbard or maybe Tony Fruscella.


Cool Quartett Vol. I

Tracks: Star  Eyes; Foreground Behind; Whats; Every Time You Say Goodby; Undreground Above; My Heart Stood Still; Background Beneath; Embraceable You.

Personnel: Axel Dörner: trumpet; Zoran Terzic: piano; Jan Roder: bass; Sven-Åke Johansson: drums.



Cool Quartett Vol. II

Tracks: The Last time I Saw Paris; Easy to Love; Half-Foreground; Star Eyes (alt.take); All of You; Half-Background; Lisa; I've Told Every Little Star.

Personnel: Axel Dörner: trumpet; Zoran Terzic: piano; Jan Roder: bass; Sven-Åke Johansson: drums.



Coolquartett / Sextett

Tracks: Bernie's Tune; Broadway; Long Ago And Far Away; Mine; Sat It Isn't So; I'm In Love; Let's Face The Music And Dance; Night in Tunisia; Tune Up; You've Changed.

Personnel: Axel Dörner: trumpet; Zoran Terzic: piano; Jan Roder: bass; Sven-Åke Johansson: drums, vocals; Tobias Delius: tenor saxophone; Henrik Walsdorff: alto saxophone; Antonio Borghini; bass.



Tune Up

Tracks: The Song Is Yo U; Tangerine; Tune Up; Valse Hot; What A Difference A Day Makes; What's New; Old Black Magic; Darn The Dream; Cool Blues; Day By Day.

Personnel: Tobias Delius: tenor saxophone; Sven-Åke Johansson: drums; Jan Roder, contrabass; Aki Takase: piano.



Candy

Tracks: Candy; You stepped Out Of A Dream; Over Man; To Close For Comfort; I'll Be Seeing You; The Way You look Tonight; I'm An Old Cowhand; Old Devil Moon; I Can't Get Started; Stars Fell On Alabama.

Personnel: Axel Dörner: trumpet; Sven-Åke Johansson: drums; Joe Williamson: contrabass.

Track Listing:

Personnel:

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: SÅj


Shop

More Articles

Read Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows Extended Analysis Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows
by John Kelman
Published: March 23, 2017
Read Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House Extended Analysis Wingfield Reuter Stavi Sirkis: The Stone House
by John Kelman
Published: March 4, 2017
Read Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word Extended Analysis Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word
by Doug Collette
Published: March 3, 2017
Read Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017
Read Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix) Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Tony Williams: Life Time" Extended Analysis Tony Williams: Life Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder: Talking Timbuktu" Extended Analysis Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder: Talking Timbuktu
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "The Traveling Wilburys Collection" Extended Analysis The Traveling Wilburys Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: September 4, 2016
Read "Neil Young & The Promise of The Real: Earth" Extended Analysis Neil Young & The Promise of The Real: Earth
by Doug Collette
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Bad Company: Live 1977 & 1979" Extended Analysis Bad Company: Live 1977 & 1979
by Doug Collette
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl" Extended Analysis The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: September 11, 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!