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Album Review

Magnus Dolerud, Hans Backenroth, and Oscar Johansson Werre: Trio Circle


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Magnus Dolerud, Hans Backenroth, and Oscar Johansson Werre: Trio Circle
Tried and true formats have been revisited time and time again over the years. The saxophone trio is amongst that core group. In the right heads and hands, such a trio offers the opportunity for new freedoms, and for inventiveness to blossom, mature, and travel. While Trio Circle's charted arrangements bring symmetry to the project, it is their uncharted methodology that delightfully proves the old adage that "the journey outweighs the destination."

Trio Circle consists of tenor saxophonist Magnus Dolerud, bassist Hans Backenroth and drummer Oscar Johansson Werre. Their debut voyage sets sail with a cohesive set of Dolerud originals and reimagined jazz classics. Throughout , the trio of Swedish veterans is tightly knit and clearly focused on respecting the music. After Dolerud's mood-setting "Prelude" accomplishes its goal, his original, "Contours," further establishes the hue and environment. All three musicians are able to move about and compliment one another in a manner that deftly signifies where this ensemble is coming from. Freedom to shape the music in the moment is further explored on "Nardis." A somewhat bold choice in as much as the Miles Davis standard has been rerecorded, reexamined and reconstructed countless times. And at that, by a contingent of jazz legends. Confidence not lacking, the trio breathe new life into the tune, in the literal sense of the word. Dolerud's breathing techniques, coupled with clever stops and starts put his own stamp on it. For good measure, Backenroth and Werre flourish in groove and pocket chemistry. Davis' tune is sandwiched between originals, with Dolerud's other composition up next. "Sober" is harmonically brilliant. Werre's delicately applied brushes in response to the bright lines of Backenroth, and Dolerud's both running and cunning note selections triggered a forceful yet fluid run with changes abundant. Dolerud has long had an affinity for the work of Billy Strayhorn. Not surprisingly then is an uptake on Strayhorn's "U.M.M.G." Dolerud's extensive vocabulary is mindfully punctuated by his well schooled rhythm section. The song is played with vigor and featured a sparkling dialogue between Dolerud's intuitive feel and Backenroth's finger popping licks..

It's impossible to miss the immediate tip of the cap to the unique bounce of Thelonious Monk. "Bright Mississippi" lights up in neon and is a fine mid point sequence adrenaline rush. Dolerud's tenor joyfully (it's Monk, is the any other way?) relishes the moment, with Weere's crisp drum solo. Dolerud lets his hair down and is greeted by Backenroth's frisky bowed interpretation. They close it back in trio and with the momentum still in full swing. On a record full of energy, "Evelyn" yearns for a moment of contemplation. A traditional harmonic lark finds the trio tantalizingly engaged in a spacious lilt that beckons for only Evelyn, and cleverly finds melody in the pursuit. Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now" is yet another vintage tune that yields well to reinterpretation. While a unique takes on jazz hybrids is often the formula for modern jazz, here the trio binds to a gently swinging gait. Its shine comes from the bold confidence in Dolerud's demeanor and his contrasting soft swagger. It's hard to imagine even Cole Porter not tapping his toe and smiling in appreciation to the trio's take on his "It's All Right With Me." The seven-minute-plus romp is jazz swing in all its glory. The sonic chart reinvents the melody again and again with Dolerud leading the charge with inventive changes. Backenroth and Werre have time to stretch out, play some chops and pops, and thrive in trio unison. That could well have been a show stopper, or record ender, as it were, but if you have an arrangement of an Ornette Coleman tune on hand then... "Broadway Blues" is served up hot with Dolerud on the fly. Backenroth and Werre never stray from their deep pockets and are always pushing it forward, embellishing along the way. They play it as a hot groove. A groove that Dolerud was smoking and smoldering inside of for the duration.

This inaugural record is untethered by fussy arrangements and lets the cats play. The complexities are drawn individually and sewn together by their musical commonalities. It's a trio of equal measure. If there is a flaw, it would be that with the exception of the Cole Porter tune, they mostly play four to five minute versions. It's a tough call with declining attention spans these days. More isn't always better, but this is the kind of jazz ripe to breathe.

Track Listing

Prelude; Contours; Nardis; Sober; U.M.M.G.; Bright Mississippi; Evelyn; If You Could See Me Now; It's All Right With Me; Broadway Blues.


Magnus Dolerud: saxophone, tenor; Hans Backenroth: bass; Oscar Johansson Werre: drums.

Album information

Title: Trio Circle | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Prophone Records

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