P>Never heard of the Mount Everest Trio? Not to worry, neither has most of the rest of the world, but once folks start lending their ears to what these guys had to say and their anonymity is sure to dissipate in a hurry. Thanks to this disc here’s your chance to get hip.The history of action jazz in Sweden reads much like a blank page to most Americans. The incomparable Mats Gustafsson is arguably the most high profile player hailing from the country and it’s no coincidence that he’s in the producer’s chair on the reissue of these classic, but almost completely forgotten, sessions. His high velocity style arises directly out of the foundation that Holmström, Jansson and Sjökvist originally built from the ground up.
Taking such free jazz patron saints as Ayler and Coleman as their inspiration the trio blazes out of the gate in a go-for-broke barrage of ecstatic energy designed to take no prisoners and convert even the most ardent skeptics. Their freewheeling rendition of Ayler’s ‘Spirits’ that ignites the set rockets through the spiraling folk theme before an immolating in an explosion of fiery improvisation. Even at their woolliest they never lose a rock solid groove as their knee-knocking take on Coleman’s ‘Ramblin’ ably demonstrates. Over the course of the track Jansson and Sjökvist throw down an ambulating rhythm that hits an in the pocket tightness while still retaining a loose elastic dimension that tapping feet will find hard to ignore. In comparison “Orinoco” alights in a minor mood as Jansson’s fiercely incessant strums and a bustling beat by Sjökvist that once again lock down a compact groove for Holmström’s wildly assertive tenor to feed off of at length.
The three show off their sentimental side on “Bananas Oas,” by way of a breezy shuffle and relaxed melodic strains that flirt with youthful romance. “No Hip Shit” on the other hand is “Bananas” dark and fuming cousin. It’s a piece that starts with Sjökvist’s tumbling traps before Holmström’s lower register lines take up the slack and blast through the rhythmic wall with the force of rampaging floodwaters. “Eritrea Libre” also sounds heavily concerned with cathartic release as Sjökvist’s vocal howls intone with the trip hammer figures of saxophone, drums and bass.
Making a persuasive argument that Swedes that can funk it up as well as anybody else the group’s reading of Gary Bartz’s contagious “People’s Dance” works off a down-home syncopated groove. The track is largely a feature for Jansson who proves how deep he can go on his strings. The final three tracks, taken from a session roughly a year later revisit the trio in equally solid shape and with even a hint more solidarity audible in their interactions. With exports like this group in it’s history Sweden’s place in the free jazz cosmology begs for reevaluation on a wide scale.
Tracks:Spirits/ Ramblin’/ Orinoco/ Bananas Oas/ No Hip Shit/ Elf/ Eritrea Libre/ People’s Dance/ 101 W. 80th Street*/ Consolation*/ Ode to Albert Ayler*.