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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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BOBO STENSON

Cantando

ECM Records 177 5462

 

 



 

1. Olivia
2. Song of Ruth
3. Wooden Church
4. M
5. Chiquilin de Bachin
6. Pages
7. Don's Kora Song
8. A Fixed Goal
9. Love, I've Found You
10. Liebesode
11. Song of Ruth.
 
Bobo Stenson - Piano
Anders Jormin - Double bass
Jon Falt - Drums.
 
 

Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson's latest album is a piano trio session very much in the style we have come to expect from some Scandinavian players. The music is understated - almost minimal: unshowy but lyrical. Stenson's playing has the thoughtfulness which distinguished such pianists as Bill Evans, with a clear, delicate touch which is perfectly caught by the ECM recording.

Stenson's long-time bassist Anders Jormin gets plenty of solo space and newish drummer Jon Falt is the model of discretion. Stenson is not afraid to include "classical" compositions such as Petr Eben's Song of Ruth (played twice) and Alban Berg's Liebesode (on which Anders Jormin makes his double bass cry out like an Indian sarangi). However, the presence of such pieces may make you wonder if this album deserves to be filed under "jazz". In fact you will be disappointed if you like foot-tapping jazz, since this is a much more serious business.

The title-track Cantando is the Spanish word for "singing" and that is exactly what this trio does - although Pages, its 13 minutes-plus venture into free improvisation sounds even more formless than other tracks, resorting to the over-familiar "free" devices of rattling drums and bitty piano and bass. Some of its bittiness may derive from it actually being four separate pieces of improvisation segued together by producer Manfred Eicher from seven pieces of free improv. However, Ornette Coleman's A Fixed Goal has the memorable melodic element which made Ornette's compositions special.

The pensive placidity of this album and its spaciousness generally make for very pleasant listening. I just wonder whether it deserves the high-flown eulogies it has received from some reviewers. One critic wrote about the opening track: "Arranging the tune's repetitive, appeasing harmonies so as to insufflate Rodriguez's theme of a gently-rubbing, comfortable thrust...,the trio susses out the piece's essence, to the surfeit of Stensons fancies". Such inflated verbiage deserves a place in Pseud's Corner, but not in serious jazz writing.

Tony Augarde


 



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