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Lasse Lindgren Big Constellation: The Unrecorded Fox

Jack Bowers By

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When it comes to playing high-note jazz trumpet, the late great Maynard Ferguson was, is and perhaps always will be the standard to which every specialist in that limited field aspires. Yes, there have been assorted claimants—Cat Anderson, Ziggy Elman, Jon Faddis, Dave Stahl, Eric Miyashiro, Wayne Bergeron and Dennis Noday spring to mind—but no one has yet come close to equaling Ferguson's near-superhuman command of his horn at the stratospheric level.

Sweden's Lasse Lindgren is also a high-note trumpeter, one who not only reveres Ferguson as a role model but does much of his blowing on Maynard's own horn, a Conn Constellation given to him by the maestro's former manager, Ernie Garside, who heard Lindgren play it at a tribute held to honor MF after his passing in August 2006. "Lasse played on the horn for five minutes," Garside recalls, "and I was stoned. No one had played on that old horn like that since Maynard died!" The trumpet was immediately donated to the Swedish phenom. In 1967, Ferguson gave another of his Conn Constellations to an ardent fan, Roy Hobson, whose son, Paul, entrusted it to Lindgren a half-century later.

So with Maynard's Conns in hand, and in their honor, Lindgren leads not a mere big band but a Big Constellation on Spirits 2, The Unrecorded Fox, Lindgren's second homage to his peerless predecessor whose nickname was "the fox." As with the earlier one, Spirits, Lindgren plays "in the spirit of Maynard Ferguson" on a number of horns including "snake" and "tricky" trumpets, flugelhorn, "firebird" (a trumpet with valves and slide), valve trombone and "superbone" (a trombone with valves and slide). The two-CD set consists of songs performed at various times but never recorded by Ferguson's groups, leaning toward the later years when MF supplemented his jazz repertoire with well-known pop tunes to draw a new and younger audience.

Even though Ferguson's impetus for doing so is clear and understandable, to these ears this rock/funk period was far removed from the apex of his long and rewarding career. While the charts, by Keith Mansfield, Adrian Drover, Dusko Goykovich and others are by and large sharp and serviceable, the material on which they are based is too often lacking in substance and is best remanded to the provincial realm in which it was introduced. Exceptions include Goykovich's "duel" compositions for trumpet ("Soul Brothers," featuring Lindgren and Fredrik Davidsson) and trombone ("Doo's Blues," on which Lindgren and Niclas Rydh trade volleys) and Drover's suitably heated arrangement of "El Vendre" (a.k.a. "The Peanut Vendor"), popularized in the '40s by the Stan Kenton Orchestra.

Completing the program are themes by Jimmy Webb ("Didn't We," "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"), Carole King ("It's Too Late," "You've Got a Friend"), the Beatles' George Harrison ("Something"), Elton John ("Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"), Michel Legrand ("The Windmills of Your Mind"), John Lennon/Paul McCartney (a rather bizarre take on "Eleanor Rigby") and originals by Mansfield (the gospel-tinged "Down Home Feelin,'" which opens Disc 1 with a dash of cacophony) and Drover ("Return to MacArthur Park"). Among them, Jay Chattaway's powerful arrangement of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down" stands out. As for Lindgren, there's no doubt he plays "in the spirit of Maynard Ferguson," even though his best efforts are undermined to some extent by the album's less-than-stellar sound; on the other hand, there's no doubt that Lindgren himself would agree that Maynard remains the touchstone and undisputed monarch of the high-note trumpet.

Track Listing: em>Disc 1 -- Down Home Feelin’; God Bless the Child; It’s Too Late; Soul Brothers; Didn’t We; Something; You’ve Got a Friend; El Vendre. Disc 2 -- Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me; Wichita Lineman; Doo’s Blues; The Windmills of Your Mind; You’ve Made Me So Very Happy; By the Time I Get to Phoenix; Return to MacArthur Park; Eleanor Rigby.

Personnel: (Collective) – Lasse Lindgren: leader, trumpet, flugelhorn, superbone, valve trombone; Antonio Gecek: trumpet; Darko Sedak Bencic: trumpet; Zvonimir Bajevic: trumpet; Klas Nilsson: trumpet; Johnny Olson: trumpet; Jocke Nilsson: trumpet; Fredrik Davidsson: trumpet; Andreas Marinella: alto sax; Johan Borgstrom: alto sax; Mario Bocic: tenor sax; Vojkan Jacic: tenor sax; John Nilsson: tenor sax; Per Lang: tenor sax; Damir Horvat: baritone sax; Erik Kristoffersson: baritone sax; Marin Ferketin: trombone; Miron Hauser: trombone; Niclas Rydh: trombone; Fredrik Wiklund: trombone; Ivan Aleksijevic: piano; Stefan Wingefors: piano; Goran Rukavina: acoustic, electric bass; Peter Janson: acoustic, electric bass; Bruno Domiter: drums; Adam Ross: drums; Mikael Andersson: percussion; Valerija Nikolovska: vocals.

Title: The Unrecorded Fox | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Nilento Records

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