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Tobias Wiklund: Where the Spirits Eat

Jakob Baekgaard By

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Who is the man behind the beard? This is the question one could be tempted to ask when seeing the cover of the young Swedish-born cornetist Tobias Wiklund's album, Where the Spirits Eat. The eyes of the horn-player are hidden, but if the saying goes that the eyes are the windows to the soul, there's no need to look any further. The music itself has plenty of soul.

Wiklund might be young, but his swinging feeling goes back to the cradle of jazz. He has a modern sound and has taken the lessons of Louis Armstrong to heart. How many modern horn-players play Armstrong-staples like "Song of the Vipers" and "Weather Bird Rag" these days? Wiklund does and with a personal touch that makes one realize that Armstrong is already modern. It's not an anachronistic homage to an old master, but an intense and honest discovery of a sparkling language that still speaks directly to a modern musical mind. Supported by bassist Lasse Mørck, who slaps the bass and plays with the bow, the music dances joyfully down the street.

Another noticeable influence, far removed in time from Armstrong, is Rob Mazurek. Like Wiklund, he is a lyrical painter of sound who is not afraid to move into abstract territory but, while both share a rare affinity for the cornet, Wiklund is less avant-garde and does not move into electronic manipulations. The music on Where the Spirits Eat is purely acoustic and delicately conceived, using a classic line-up with piano, bass and drums in inventive ways. The instruments drift in and out, and the music is as spacious as it is swinging. It's especially a pleasure to hear the Danish pianist Simon Toldam, whose crystalline figures and sophisticated sense of abstract and straightforward swing dazzle on "Mycket Viktigt Meddelande" (Very Important Message).

Drummer Daniel Fredriksson plays with the light, airy elegance of a Vernell Fournier and knows when to turn the heat up and down. The protagonist is Wiklund whose reservoir of melodic ideas never runs dry as he shapes clear lines with his compact and mellow sound, tastefully employing occasional effects of mute and growl. He can play a ballad to the bone and dress a tune up with multiple patterns, adding new layers to his musical stories.

Those saying that the young generation of jazz players have forgotten the past should listen to Where the Spirits Eat. Wiklund drinks deep from the well of tradition, but he isn't a traditionalist. His sound is contemporary and happening right now.

Track Listing: Where the Spirits Eat; Dancing to the Drum of No Conscience; Song of the Vipers; Smoke; The Janitor; Mycket Viktigt Meddelande; Saved By You; Beefroot Interlude; Beefroot; Weather Bird Rag; Waking up on Buffalo Hill; City in the Sky.

Personnel: Tobias Wiklund: Cornet: Simon Toldam: piano: Daniel Fredriksson: drums: Lasse Mørck: Bass:

Title: Where the Spirits Eat | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Stunt Records/Sundance Music

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