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The Tolvan Big Band is one of Scandinavia's most experienced big bands. Located in Malmö, in southern Sweden, this orchestra has been working since 1979 and, under saxophonist/musical director Helge Albin, has collaborated with notable Americans such as Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Liebman and Michael Brecker, British composer Mike Westbrook and Danish saxophonist Lars Møller; the band has even dedicated one of its programs to new arrangements of the John Lennon/John Lennon songbook.
On Tarantula Suite, reed player Cennet Jönsson takes the leadership. Jönsson composed and arranged an impressive eight-movement suite that stresses this big band's masterful collective musicianship and warm sound. Jönsson is a versatile composer and his compositions use the group's powerhouse energy and tight interplay, and its members' broad musical knowledge. The ensemble shines on "Pazienza," as also saxophonist Helge Albin sax alternates playful solos with trombonist Vincent Nilsson and drummer Lennart Gruvstedt. Jönsson's soprano solo on "Misterioso" is a great lesson on restrained development of a theme, until it gains greater volume and power.
"Forza" feature the big band in a lightly swinging mode, with bright solos from Gruvstedt, pianist Jorgen Emborg and trumpeter Gerard Presencer. On the meditative "Silenzio"the suite's most beautiful movement, and one that brings to mind Charlie Haden's well-known "Silence"Jönsson arrangement adds increasingly arresting layers over bassist Patrik Albin's emotional solo , in a manner that features the composition's sophisticated architecture and the rapport of the entire ensemble. The last movement, "Sprenza," features Jönsson (on soprano sax) with alto saxophonist Ulf Holmström who, together with Emborg, lead this 18-piece big band through a gentle swinging melody that highlights each section of the ensemblewoodwinds, trumpets/flugelhorns, trombones and rhythm sectionand its clever interplay.
I was first exposed to jazz while learning to play chess with my uncles. They would play smooth jazz, and then switch up to more standard types of jazz. But, when they played Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, I was
hooked and I haven't looked back.