Four years after “Cantando”, a new album from the Bobo Stenson Trio – recorded in Lugano last December – explores a broad arc of material. Here we find: free playing (the trio has its own, fresh approach to collective improvising), tunes by Bill Evans (“Your Story”, offered here as a tribute to Paul Motian, for whom this tune was a favourite) and by George Russell (“Event VI” from “Living Time”, another piece associated with Evans), Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s “Oft Am I Glad”, a Norwegian hymn (in an arrangement by Anders Jormin and folk singer Sinikka Langeland), contemporary composition by Norway’s Ola Gjeilo, a Wolf Biermann protest song, Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez’s folkloric “La Peregrinación”, and more. Wide-ranging repertoire has become a hallmark of Bobo Stenson recordings. But it’s not just the eclecticism that is striking: Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin and Jon Fält take their far-flung sources and make of them an organic music that sings with its own voice.
As the New York Times has noted “Mr. Stenson makes fairly sublime piano trio records without over-arranging, overplaying or over-bandleading. In his mid-60s now, he’s the repository of half a century of the development of free jazz, in particular the European post-1960s kind, with its folk and classical leanings. Yet he wears it all lightly. In his recent records you don’t hear strategies or contentions but a natural working flow.”
Long one of the most influential of Scandinavian jazz musicians, Bobo Stenson was amongst the first ECM artists. His recordings with Jan Garbarek in the 1970s were recently reissued as the boxed set “Dansere”. He has played on important ECM discs with Don Cherry, Charles Lloyd, and Tomasz Stanko and made his first recording as piano trio leader for the label in 1971. The Stenson trio has gone through a number of permutations since then, with former personnel including bassists Arild Andersen and Palle Danielsson and drummers Jon Christensen and Paul Motian, distinguished players all. In the current trio with Jormin and Fält, whose line-up has been consistent since 2004, there is a balance of energies – clear-edged lyrical piano playing, rootedness and keen choice of notes from the bass, and detailed, textural drumming – that is especially satisfying. “Few contemporary jazz groups sustain an atmosphere as evocatively as Swedish pianist Stenson’s trio, or conjure so many moods across a variety of material” wrote John Fordham, reviewing “Cantando” in The Guardian. “Nothing, from a steaming postbop line to a stroked cymbal-edge or a sitar-like bass phrase, suggests a hint of an accidental sound – yet somehow the music never dims the glow of spontaneity.”
The musicians share an eagerness to play and the dynamics of the free/rhythmic understanding between Anders Jormin and Jon Fält have latterly been explored also in Jormin’s own groups, as on the “Ad Lucem” album, released earlier this year.
The Bobo Stenson Trio launches “Indicum” with a special release concert at Stockholm’s Fasching Jazzclub on October 1 followed a tour with dates in Sweden and Germany including Göteborg Nefertiti Club (October 05), Tübingen Sudhaus (November 15), Saarbrücken Aula der Universität (November 16), Esslingen Kulturzentrum (November 18) München Unterfahrt (November 20), Landsberg Stadttheater (November 22), Heilbronn Cave 61 (December 15).