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Erik Söderlind is a young man in no particular hurry. Not yet 30, he plays jazz guitar with supreme assurance, and on his debut album Twist For Jimmy Smith, he has put together a lovely, leisurely paced, always swinging collection of standards and originals that deserves worldwide recognition. Of course, he's unlikely to get it. We live in a world obsessed with image, a world that all too often mistakes image for the real thing. As the video link that follows this review indicates, Söderlind doesn't give a hang about image. For him it's the music that counts. So the world will no doubt pass him by.
Should Sweden's Söderlind be passed over, it's the world's loss. Here he teams up with two other extremely talented local musicians, organist Kjell Öhman and reed man Magnus Lindgren to make an album that brooks repeated listening. Söderlind plays in a line stemming from Charlie Christian and continuing through Wes Montgomery and George Bensonand that's George Benson when John Hammond billed him "The Most Exciting New Guitarist On The Jazz Scene Today." Before someone discovered he could sing, dressed him in glittery suits and stuck him on the cabaret circuit.
Twist For Jimmy Smith provides a glimpse of what jazz was all about in those far off days; though this album is not about nostalgia. It's about the real thing, what Söderlind, on the sleeve calls "the joy of making music" and communicating that joy.
From the opener, Burt Bacharach's "Wives and Lovers" to Hoagy Carmichael's closing "The Nearness of You"via "Willow Weep For Me," with Söderlind doffing his cap to Montgomerythere is nearly an hour's worth of classic, straight-ahead jazz, with the accent on melody but with Öhman giving it just that hint of rhythm 'n' blues in the old sense of the term.
New ground is not broken and there are no tormented experiments with atonality or discord. It's just musicbut oh so superbly well-played and enjoyable.
Track Listing: Wives and Lovers; Close Your Eyes; Polka Dots and Moonbeams; Mr C; Twist for Jimmy Smith; The Shadow of Your Smile; Broadway; Willow Weep for Me; Blues for Pat Martino; Flamman; The Nearness of You.
Personnel: Erik Söderlind: guitar; Kjell Öhman: organ; Magnus Lindgren: tenor saxophone, flute; Claes Orlandersson: trumpet; Martin Sjöstedt: bass; Moussa Fadera: drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.