The Swedish jazz collective, Jazzagenturen. founded by Pontus de Wolfe, reached deep into their collective souls and stood up to the downsides of the Covid-19 coronavirus early on. This large ensemble entered a studio on April 2nd 2020. Twelve hours later they emerged having recorded fifty songs. The Stockholm Corona Sessions
(Bra Skivor, 2020) are being released in five volumes, spread out through 2020 and 2021, Gathering worldwide attention by being both an unprecedented project and superb multi-ranged jazz recordings, Jazzagenturen was not seeking this kind of attention. Simply said, they (like all other musicians) were facing an undetermined gig-less and income-less stretch. This was about feeding their families and paying the rent. It took on a life of its own partially due to the uniqueness of the project, but mostly because the music is both swingin' hot and smolderingly heartfelt. The first volume of nine songs was reviewed in April. Volume Three is reviewed here.
A short reprise of Cedar Walton
's "Ojos de Rojo" sets the mood for this collection of tunes. A scintillating version of the song was on Volume Two; the reprise leads into an all-in take on "It's You or No One." The Sammy Cahn
/Jule Styne tune is reimagined and arranged by saxophonist Fredrik Lindborg
. He leads the way and trades solos of equal pizazz with trumpeter Nils Janson
. Round robin swingin' that includes pianist Fredrik Hermansson
and a tight rhythm section, get the record off to a hot start.
A percussive and smooth groovin' "Tin tin deo" features the melodic feel of pianist Leo Lindberg
. An energized trio, that includes drummer Moussa Fadera
and bassist Kenji Rabson
, takes this upbeat jam out for a stroll. The classic "Perdido" is honored with a vibrant arrangement. The song made famous by Duke Ellington
kicks in with the very familiar melody in the hands of saxophonist Lindborg. Feisty Latin percussion is met by the Latinesque trumpet of Janson and a crisp run by pianist Hermannson. The tune is embraced by a stylish sense of swing.
The clock said ballad, and this was accomplished in fine fashion with an original song by bassist Martin Höper
entitled "South 3rd Serenade." A sweet and melancholy atmosphere is in place. A band that also featured Erik Palmberg
on flugelhorn, Carl Bagge
on piano, and Jonas Backman
on drums, came together in a discernable and heartfelt manner. It flowed nicely into the gathering momentum of "The St Vitus Dance." The Horace Silver
penned tune is briskly empowered by the jazz trio of Lindberg, Fadera, and Rabson. Lindberg's driving piano lilt is significantly supported by the rhythm section of Fadera and Rabson. A song made famous by both Frank Sinatra
and Tony Bennett
is the lone vocal on the record. It is supplied by singer Matilda Gratte
. Her straight up rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight" was taken to another level by pianist Bagge, drummer Backman, bassist Palle Sollinger
, and trumpeter Janson. A top shelf swingin' conclusion to a, at the risk of redundancy, swingin' record.
Like the first two volumes, the Stockholm Corona Sessions Volume Three
, of five, is a bright spot in a time of darkness. The music is terrific. History will record the Covid-19 coronavirus period as a downtrodden time of quarantines, masks, joblessness, social distancing, and, well, boredom. Jazzagenturen's epic undertaking in no way erases any of that. It perhaps, though, writes another chapter in the same book that is uplifting. Early on, these many musicians came together, under the direction of producer Pontus de Wolfe, with both a song and compassion in their hearts. Recording fifty songs in a twelve-hour period took fortitude, drive, and heart. Three qualities that people around the world genuinely need right now.
Ojos de Rojo(reprise); It's You or No One; Tin tin deo; Perdido; South 3rd Serenade; St Vitus Dance; The Way You Look Tonight.