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Album Review

Cantando marks the second time in as many albums that pianist and composer Bobo Stenson is making a personnel change in the drum chair of his trio. For many jazz artists this wouldn't even be a major consideration, as the transient nature of the music lends itself to such changes. But Stenson, along with longtime bassist Anders Jormin (20 years), has only made a total of six recordings in 37 years including this one, and former drummer Jon Christensen held that chair for 29 of them. Paul Motian stepped in for 2005's Goodbye and offered a different, mildly busier approach, though it too was rooted in the slow and deliberate spaciousness that has been at the heart of Stenson's music from the beginning. But 29-year-old drummer Jon Fält (Nordic Quintet) lends something else entirely to Stenson's brew as he may continue in Motian's footsteps as an elegant player but he is more physical dynamically, and more active in his sense of adventure. Another aspect of the change inherent in Stenson's approach to music-making would be the selection of material by other composers. Of the 11 pieces here, only one, "Pages," is an original; and it is a long improvisational work that sits dead-center on the album, compiled chop-up style from four demos by producer Manfred Eicher. It is credited to all three members. The other works here are by a highly divergent group of authors, from Ornette Coleman to Alban Berg, from Czech composer Peter Iben to the late Argentine nuevo tango composer Astor Piazzolla, from Don Cherry to Cuban vocalist Silvio Rodríguez. These choices are all impeccable. Rodríguez's "Olivia" opens the set with its insistent lyricism and tender melody line. The interplay between Jormin — one of the greatest bassists ever to appear on ECM and one of the most technically gifted players in the music today — and Fält, with his dancing cymbal work and beat-heavy brushes on the tom-toms, offers an uncharacteristically tight space for Stenson in the melody and in his solo. Of course he rises to the occasion with glorious ostinati and syncopated arpeggios. Cherry's "Don's Kora Song" begins with the rhythm section, in particular the held, clipped cymbal sound by Fält that accompanies the insistent, woody attack by Jormin in an insistent rhythm. Stenson begins by rumbling in the lowest register before gradually moving toward the center with a mysterious minor-key articulation of Cherry's lyric line and developing a solo of chords into the middle of that as Fält allows the cone of the cymbals to ring more with his attack. Jormin is dazzling as he propels the tune from underneath. Coleman's "A Fixed Goal" follows this, and the reading is wonderful. With its playful, staccato melody echoing a nursery rhyme ethos and decidedly marked harmonic lines and rhythmic shifts, it is the perfect number for this trio. Stenson's solo is dazzling. The real mettle of the trio is on "Pages," where the group plays freely — for Stenson — with time, space, and texture. Fält and Jormin are wonderful together, continually challenging and complementing, and Stenson's elastic melodic sense is given new elasticity. This is a stellar effort that announces — hopefully — an extended run for this trio.

Customer Reviews

a very important trio album this !

This is quite the most beautiful trio music I've heard since Bill Evans' work. That includes work by Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Brad Mehldau - all who have a lyrical fire and genius with harmonising a show tune. I don't know any of the 'songs' but the alchemy that goes on is quite extraordinary. Bobo Stenson has played with Charles Lloyd and (where I discovered him) with Jan Gabarek and of course has a solid catalogue on the wonderful ECM. It's old fashioned because Bobo's talent is timeless, it doesn't date or tell you what to wear. Much of the genius is in his harmonic interplay with the bass and drums. There's a sense of space and introspection. He doesn't have the harmonic texture of Evans perhaps, but on pieces like 'Olivia' 'Song for Ruth' and 'Liebesode' he brings his own language and it is most pleasing. This album 'song' 'singing' shows a genius and am I glad to have found something I'll be listening till auld lang syne stops...Exquisite.

Cantando

Simply beautiful with elements of the best chamber music from Bach to left field. Play it loud, but accurately, and feel the percussion caress, rather than drive, this trio with ever changing textures and surprises. The piano figures are usually delicate, always thoughtful and the bass often unobtrusive but so clever in its empathy that it rewards careful, concentrated listening. Always to be played in a mood of relaxed concentration, when it is guaranteed to raise your mood. Never to be played as wallpaper!

Biography

Born: 1944 in Västerås, Sweden

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Swedish pianist/composer Bobo Stenson made a name for himself in the late '60s as one of Europe's finest players, accompanying visiting luminaries like Gary Burton, Sonny Rollins, and Stan Getz. Underwear, his 1971 debut as a leader, began an ongoing collaboration with ECM Records and with drummer Jon Christensen. Christensen also joined Stenson on sessions with Jan Garbarek in the '70s and Charles Lloyd in the '80s and '90s, and played in Stenson's revamped trio along with Anders Jormin. The Swedish...
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Cantando, Bobo Stenson Trio
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