Behind the odd name Två För Tommy (Two for Tommy in Swedish) stand three of the best Swedish improvisers: reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist, a founding member of the acclaimed Norwegian-Swedish quintet Atomic
; vibraphonist Mattias Ståhl, who leads his own bands, Ståhls Blå and Ståhls Trio, and has collaborated with countless other outfits; and double bassist Patric Thorman, member of the Swedish-American quintet Seval
. This trio's debuta limited edition LP of only 350 copiesis a masterful exploration of chamber jazz.
The unique instrumentation obviously refers to the Jimmy Giuffre
Trio with pianist Paul Bley
and double bassist Steve Swallow
from five decades ago. Ståhl and Thorman's compositions for Två För Tommy are inspired by the influential legacy of this triowith one composition specifically dedicated to the innovative reed playerbut place their own improvised stamp on the music.
Ljungkvist's focus is exclusively on clarinet for this trio, and his beautiful, warm and expressive tone leads the fresh compositions. Ståhl's vibes cover a whole range of sounds from lyrical, soft and church-like to fiery, and even abstract. Thorman's melodic playing adds an implicit rhythmic element to the cohesive sound of the trio, but with no fixed pulse.
Stressing the melodic and harmonic elements of the writing, the nine compositions complement each other, each successive piece adding a dramatic chapter to the trio's exploration of this unique instrumentation, with its sensitive and immediate interplay.
Ståhl's "Runt Runt Runt" is one of the most impressive compositions here, with Ljungkvist articulating its beautiful theme, answered by the vibraphonist, who repeats the melody and expands it. Thorman pushes it even further in an exemplary restrained manner that emphasize the composition's lyrical essence. "Blues for J.G.," dedicated to Giuffre, is a quiet, free form blues, but only in spirit, while the sudden twists in "Baby Boom Boom" add an ironic side to the trio's playing.
This superbly beautiful music does not subscribe to any school, genre, tradition or era. It is simply timeless music, played with passion, urgency and imagination.