HARRY BACKLUND - "Remembering Harry"
ROLF BILLBERG - "Altosupremo"
LARS GULLIN - "Alma Mater ' Alma Almah"
ENAR JONSSON QUINTET & SEXTET - "Gothenberg 1965 - 1969"
Anagram Records,

www.anagram-records.com

LARS-GORAN ULANDER TRIO - "Live at Glenn Miller Café", Ayler Records
www.ayler.com

There must be something in the Baltic Sea waters. Maybe it's the world's greatest herring or the cold wind that blows in from the west, but the jazz music that is made around this body of water is simply put exhilarating.

Though I was born in Poland 'just across the water from Sweden' which is the home to all of these musicians - all of this music has a sweet but melancholy sound that reminds me of a place I once called home. Tenor player Harry Bäcklund never got a fair share of recognition inside or outside of his native Sweden. In fact, he was so poorly recognized that he never released an album under his own name. 'Remembering Harry' alludes to fixing this terrible omission and features tracks recorded mostly with his own quartet. The introspective [almost Bill Evans like] piano playing of Nils Lindberg enriches this session. It's a shame that he's only featured on three tracks on the record - wistful work on the album's opener 'Darn that Dream', and the most energetic tracks on the session 'I Remember You' and 'Little Willie Leaps In'. On the other tracks, though equally as gifted, pianists Allan Wajda, Knud Jorgensen and Lars Sjosten provide some much needed rhythmic accompaniment. All of these tracks date from early to mid 60's and everyone has this dramatically underplayed quality. Harry is an adept but a very relaxed player. His style doesn't allow him to scream or overpower his comrades in his various ensembles. Rather, his tenor has a warm but a robust sound that pulls at your heartstrings. [Check out the 17 minute closer 'I've Seen' ' which also features the rich baritone work of Lars Gullin - to hear the beauty this man was capable of expressing.] Long overdue, 'Remembering Harry' pays tribute to the memory of Harry Backlund - a man whose music should be wider regarded in jazz circles. Saxophonist Rolf Billberg is an example of talent cut short by tragedy.

Tragic death at a young age of 36 left us with more questions than answers. What would Rolf be playing today if he were here? Would he refine his sound? The sound of his alto as heard on the sessions that make up 'Altosupremo' is mesmerizing. A more manageable Lee Konitz perhaps or maybe a man of his own means and methods ' whatever the case may be, Rolf Billberg was truly a Swedish original. Especially rich are the tracks that baritone saxophonist Lars Gullin appears on ' 'Ablution', 'Nigerian Walk' or 'My Old Flame'. The trading off on snap ideas makes these truly an investigative report into the minds of these two musicians. But ultimately, this man's music had a tender side as well. 'Detour Ahead' showcases one such example.

Just to hear Rolf's alto gently caress your ear drums ' as he's accompanied by a string section ' is a truly other world experience. Hard-bop, be-bop or just straight ahead jazz, this is another piece in the puzzle of the life of the little known Rolf Billberg.

Baritone player Lars Gullin has recently enjoyed a sort of a renaissance. Labels such as Dragon and Anagram have been bursting at the seems with new material ready for reissue. Recorded between 1964 and 1965, 'Alma Mater ' Alma Almah' is another crucial piece in the life of this Swedish saxophone legend. Meandering lines and uplifting blows seem to be Lars' signature on the baritone. He's not particularly forceful or overbearing in his manner of playing. Rather, he prefers the middle ground. He likes to lead, not by force but by sheer determination of his playing. Even when accompanied by tenor player and long-time partner, Harry Backlund [listen to the tender 'Darn that Dream' for proof], he is always a gentleman stepping aside when the need arises and allowing his partner full opportunity to play his solos as he sees fit. Romantic playing? Perhaps. Was it played with heart and conviction? Yes. Who cares if some of the music is recorded on analog equipment or if the sound quality is not up to audiophile standards. It's great to see the memory of Lars Gullin being kept alive for future generations to discover.

Multi-instrumentalist [mostly concentrating on the wind section], Enar Jonsson began his first group back in 1964. 'Gothenberg 1965 ' 1969' details five of his works recorded in Gothenburg and Stockholm during that time frame. Perhaps the financial rewards of his craft were negligible, but the music was fierce and daring. It was a time of excitement and change and Enar took advantage of this in the fullest sense of the word. Right from the get go, you notice the tracks are long [ranging anywhere from almost 8 minutes to about 18 minutes in length], which means this group really wanted to show off their improvisational flare. Another sign of change was the blatant inclusion of political references in the song titles ' 'Malcolm X' and 'The Children' [this one being a tribute to the children of Vietnam].

Though on first listen, a Don Cherry comparison is not a bad one, when you listen to the recording again, you realize Enar has a different tonality, a different sense of urgency. His compositions [or improvisations] are full of call and response shouts ' especially rich are Ove Johansson's and Jan Forslund screams on various saxes and flutes. There is plenty of room allowed for soloing, and plenty of air given to all personnel to really stretch their capabilities to the extreme. The peak of these sessions culminates with 'Svit i folkton', where classical opera singer Marta Scheele joins the band with her daring high-pitched overtures, while Enar accompanies her on a home-made instrument called bromton [I've no idea what it looks like, but there should really be a picture included with CD's booklet]. Truly, a very fiery and an exciting recording that we're only too lucky to have finally dusted from the vaults. One of the initial missions of Ayler Records from the get-go, along with unearthing older Swedish talent, was to promote the new blood of that country. Saxophonist Lars-Goran Ulander is somewhere in between the two.

For one, he's a seasoned player, committing sessions with Per Henrik Wallin, Sten Oberg, Phil Minton, Lars Lystedt and Berndt Egerbaldh amongst others. Then again, he's playing with a younger player here ' drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and someone who is about his own age, bassist Palle Danielsson.

The two nights in August 2004, when this CD was recorded, were very exciting at the Glenn Miller Café in Stockholm. Jan Strom [who runs Ayler Records] in fact had to do some clever manoeuvring with Ulf Sterner [who runs the venue] in order to get this trio recorded as quickly as possible.

It's interesting to note how Lars has retained the same energetic fervour on his alto that he had nearly three decades ago when Per Henrik Wallin's 'The Stockholm Tapes' were recorded. The screeching alto work is still as present as it was in the past. His improvisational fervour is all fire and the other two members of this trio are as excited about this music as their leader. Bassist Palle Danielsson and percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love support Lars with tightly compressed beats and pulses. The rhythm section in fact is allowed to give more than a few solos. Listen to how gentle the bass is at the beginning of 'Intrinsic Structure I'. While Palle is underplaying and plucking very lightly, Paal gives only slight shudders of colour on his percussion set. With gushes of fire and volcanic energy, this release has guaranteed Lars-Goran Ulander a good first step away from obscurity.

Tom Sekowski


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+ erikm/tetreault/otomo - trace cuts
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+ Total 6
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+ Mark Hellner - Marriages
+ Gonzales - Z
+ Jose Gonzalez - Stay In The Shade
+ Jose Gonzalez - Veneer
+ Gimmik - News From The Past
+ Gimmik - Load Error
+ Frog Pocket - Gonglot
+ Folie - Eyepennies
+ Renato Figoli - Let Fernando In
+ Richard Davis - Details
+ Cyne - Evolution Fight
+ Cobra Killer & Kapajkos - Das Mandolinenorchester
+ Bovaflux - Where There Was Nothing
+ Autechre/The Hafler Trio - aeo3/3hae
+ Alter Ego - Transphormed

- - - - - - - - -

+ NODERN - Nodern
+ PHIL MINTON / VERYAN WESTON - WAYS OUT EAST, WAYS OUT WEST
+ AUTECHRE - Untitled; AUTECHRE / THE HAFLER TRIO - aeo3/3hae
+ IRENE SCHWEIZER - Live at Taktlos
+ FIELDWORK - Simulated Progress
+ SATANICPORNOCULTSHOP - Zap Meemees
>> HARRY BACKLUND - Remembering Harry; ROLF BILLBERG - Altosupremo; LARS GULLIN - Alma Mater ' Alma Almah; ENAR JONSSON QUINTET & SEXTET - Gothenberg 1965 - 1969; LARS-GORAN ULANDER TRIO - Live at Glenn Miller Café
+ STEPHAN OLIVA / FRANCOIS RAULIN - Tristano; SOPHIE AGNEL / CHRISTINE WODRASCKA - Cuerdas Cinq Cent Trente-cinq
+ ALEJANDRA AND AERON - Porto (Folklore fragments volume 2)
+ THE REMPIS PERCUSSION QUARTET - Circular Logic; LESLIE KEFFER - Represents
+ STEFFEN BASHO-JUNGHANS - Unknown Music II
+ UTON - Whispers from the Woods
+ FLOROS FLORIDIS - F.L.O.R.O. I; F.L.O.R.O. II

- - - - - - - - -

WYWIADY / RELACJE

+ Poezja bez muzyki - wiersze Antye Grye-Fuchs (AGF)