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Fredrik Lindborg: The General

Victor Verney By

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There are those who insist that jazz musicians are born, not made. Swedish saxophonist Fredrik Lindborg makes an interesting exhibit in this "nature versus nurture" argument. He was determined from a very young age to become a jazz musician, and he credits this to the fact that his father began playing Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday records for him from the moment he came home from the hospital.

Born in 1979, Lindborg's formative musical exposure consisted of a decidedly older vintage than that of most of today's twenty-somethings. It seems highly unlikely that very many youngsters growing up during the post-fusion 1980s, whether in Sweden, the United States or anywhere else—regardless of their innate musicality or their educational background—were dreaming of forming a Charlie Parker tribute band. Not only did Lindborg nurture this teenage dream, he actually fulfilled it while a student at the University of Gothenburg. The resultant group, Marmaduke, which he formed with Victor Furbacken, still gigs on occasion and performed at the 2005 Stockholm Jazz Festival.

There are also those, with regard to another culturally-based musical debate, who still believe Europeans can't play real jazz. These American chauvinists point to what was, in the past, a watered-down, once-removed quality often heard from across the pond. Their assertion has grown steadily weaker over the past decade, and Lindborg thoroughly demolishes it here.

The most striking—and for many, perhaps, pleasantly unexpected—characteristics of this recording are its warmth and authenticity. In the American popular imagination, Sweden is associated with long winters, bleak Bergman films and sterile techno-pop music. There's nothing chilly about this album, acoustically or stylistically.

Although Matti Ollikainen's very brief liner notes are written in Swedish, three words printed in upper-case need no translation: "Rollins, Dexter, Hawkins." Obviously, the tenor is Lindborg's primary axe, and he plays it exclusively on this CD. (He plays alto sax with Marmaduke, and he also plays baritone sax and bass clarinet with the Bohusian Big Band, considered one of Sweden's premier large ensembles.)

But not all multi-instrumentalists or improvisers make good composers or bandleaders. On this self-produced recording, Lindborg leads his own quartet through thirteen original compositions, demonstrating his growth into the maturity needed for those roles.

His front-line partner, guitarist Gustav Lundgren, is given equal solo time throughout. In fact, it would be difficult to tell in a blindfold test who the frontman was, attesting to an ego held healthfully in check by Lindborg. Both are graceful, adept soloists ably supported throughout by bassist Kenji Rabson (who also steps up for a nice solo on "Two of a Kind") and drummer Moussa Fadera. Lundgren also did a commendable job as recording engineer, lending a rich, mellow sound to the proceedings.

Nearly all the cuts are relatively compact numbers in the four to five-minute range. Highlights include the stutter-stepping opener "Struttin' in the Wild," a Silver-tinged "Hoover," the witty title track and a charming "Miss Rumba Queen." Highly recommended.


Track Listing: Struttin' in the Wind; Hoover; Needle Valse; Coming Back; Miss Rumba Queen; The General; Left Behind; Two of a Kind; The Brothel; Blues Business; Deep Down; Waltzin' Four; For Samuel.

Personnel: Fredrik Lindborg: tenor saxophone; Gustav Lundgren: guitar; Kenji Rabson: bass; Moussa Fadera: drums.

Title: The General | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Imogena

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