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Mare Nostrum

ACT 9466-2 [62:45]



Mare Nostrum (Lundgren) [5:55]
Principessa (Galliano) [4:35]
Eu Nao Existo Sem Voce (A.C.Jobim, V. de Morales) [2:58]
The Seagull (Lundgren) [3:18]
Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (Trenet) [4:32]
Years Ahead (Lundgren) [5:05]
Sonia’s Nightmare (Fresu) [4:04]
Chat Pitre (Galliano) [3:00]
Valzer del Ritorno (Fresu) [4:24]
Open Your Mind (Lundgren) [4:05]
Liberty Waltz (Galliano) [4:10]
Mio Mehmet, forse il destino m’impedirà di riverderti (Fresu) [4:29]
Ma Mère L’Oye (Ravel, arr. Galliano) [4:28]
Para Jobim (Galliano) [3:57]
Vårvindar Friska (trad., arr. Lundgren)
Paolo Fresu (trumpet, fluugelhorn)
Richard Galliano (accordion, bandoneon)
Jan Lundgren (piano)
rec. 7-11 January, 2007, Artesuono studios, Cavalicco (Udine), Italy.

This is a quite delightful, idiosyncratic trio recording. A glance at the instrumentation will be enough to tell you that there are instrumental textures and combinations here that lie well outside the jazz mainstream. Has there, indeed, ever been a previous recording made by this particular combination of instruments?

But the oddity (uniqueness?) of the instrumental combination matters far less than the self-evident fact that – at least when played by these three very talented musicians – it works.

The booklet notes by René Hess offer hints as to how the meeting of a Sardinian trumpeter, a French accordionist of Italian descent and a Swedish pianist might have come about. Apparently Lundgren and Galliano first encountered one another on-stage in a jam session at a Japanese festival, and each was very taken by the other’s work. We are told that an unnamed drummer (could it have been Alex Riel or Morten Lund?) who worked regularly with both Lundgren and Fresu may have served as a medium of contact between the two. However this trio came about, let’s be grateful that it did.

Playing a mixture of originals and standards (not that all of them are all that ‘standard’), Fresu-Galliano-Lundgren produce some beautifully sensitive and thoughtful music; the absence of drums and bass allows a particular freedom of interplay and results in some beautifully transparent passages. This is intimately conversational music, imbued with an absolute sense of dialogue. All three members of this ad-hoc trio are, of course, substantial names already, ‘stars’ if one will. But they all seem to have no difficulty in submerging their egos to a genuinely group personality and coherence. Fresu’s familiarity with the idioms of Miles Davis and Chet Baker is grounded in, and personalised by, his familiarity with the music of his native Sardinia; Galliano – without ever being merely derivative – is equally at home in the traditions of the French accordion and the music of Astor Piazzola; Lundgren’s musical language certainly encompasses important dimensions of the modern jazz piano tradition, but much in his work also echoes Swedish folksong and some aspects of the classical tradition. All three, in short, are instinctively eclectic musicians – and, as such, well-suited to this kind of open ended (and open-eared) cross-cultural dialogue.

The music is quite and reflective, but possessed of a genuine emotional charge, even if it works by under- (rather than over) statement. Graceful, but never merely predictable, never willing to settle for the merely obvious, this has about it that ‘sound of surprise’ Whitney Balliett thought of as the essence of jazz (even if these particular sounds might not have seemed to Balliett to constitute ‘jazz’). Fresu’s tone is gorgeous and warm, Lundgren’s lines are lucid and Galliano’s playing is constantly inventive both rhythmically and harmonically.

A small gem.

Glyn Pursglove


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