The Jazz.com Blog
July 25, 2009 · 0 comments
David Tenenholtz continues his report on the Stockholm Jazz Festival below. For part one of this article, click here. T.G.
Day three of the Stockholm Jazz Festival, running from Wednesday July 15 through Sunday July 19, presented a multitude of outstanding jazz music. The first show on the large stage was Swedish saxophonist and bandleader Lennart Åberg and his big band. Interpreting a large scope of Jan Johansson repertoire, the set was a particular treat for this writer.
Lennart Åberg's Big Band (photo by Eva Elings)
With pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Christian Spering and others of Sweden’s finest musicians on hand, the music of Johansson was enlivened. Åberg’s soprano playing on “Generalen Kommer Hem (The General Comes Home)” and “Visa från Järna (Song from Järna)” was mellow and, at times, meditative. Some of the selections, which included “Het Sommar,” “Fanfär,” “Vals från Delsbo,” and “Måndag Kväll” featured collective improvisation from the entire group. This opener was an essential element for a jazz festival in Sweden, as it brought out the flavor of this country’s unique jazz tradition.
Also presented on day three were numerous modern jazz groups from Sweden, such as the high-energy instrumental band Oddjob, featuring the trumpet (with effect pedals) of Goran Kajfeš, alto and baritone saxophones of Peter “Ruskträsk” Johansson, piano and keyboards of Daniel Karlsson, basses of Peter Forss, and drums of Janne Robertsson. Both horn players also played a great deal of Latin percussion, and blew feisty solos on tunes like “Sewerside Blues.” A more laid back selection from their new album Sumo, “The Big Hit” employed a deep 6/8 groove. Karlsson, who later in the evening played in the band at Fasching jazz club, is a rare talent on piano, and Kajfeš has one of the best trumpet sounds around.
Later in the evening, a tribute to Nina Simone including her former musical director Alan Schackman showcased Simone’s songbook with a host of vocal stars. Lizz Wright lovingly presented “I Loves You, Porgy”, and Diane Reeves sounded gorgeous on “I Put a Spell on You” and the standard “But Beautiful” done with Latin rhythmic elements. An attractive blend of cabaret and musical theatre repertoire, the show also featured Lisa Simone Kelly, the daughter of Nina Simone, as well as Angelique Kidjo.
Around 10:30 in the evening, with the sun still lighting up the view of Stockholm’s city center, Swedish pianist Jacob Karlzon presented his quartet for a set of originals that harkened back to the days of the Keith Jarrett Scandinavian quartet, while also holding a fresh musical attitude that is adventurous and cathartic. This killing band, featuring tenor saxophonist Karl-Martin Almqvist, bassist Hans Andersson, and drummer Anders Kjellberg, took improvisation to new impassioned heights on the tunes “Human Factor,” “Questions,”“Bubbles,” and the title tune off Karlzon’s new album Heat.
While the stars didn’t align for a transcendental Sonny Rollins performance on the large stage to close out day three, the crowd gave the saxophone colossus a lot of love, and the positive energy from his mix of blues, ballads, and calypso selections earned great applause. After the festival ended for the day, the party moved to the jam session at Fasching. There the hang lasted until 4:00 am, with Headhunters percussionist Bill Summers joining the other musicians for an extended jam on shekere and vocals. The tune was Rollin’s “St. Thomas” with Summer’s intoning an African folksong as well. The vibe at Fasching was also uplifted when Summers quieted the audience before the tune—which included a great many Swedish artists commiserating at the bar—for a toast to Nelson Mandela, who turned 91 years old that day.
Anders Widmark (photo by Eva Elings)
Although the closing of day three also meant the closing of much of the jazz-focused presentations at the festival, there were still noteworthy jazz artists over the weekend. Swedish pianist/vocalist Anders Widmark, who has had works composed for him by stalwart big band composer Bob Brookmeyer, featured his group Anders Widmark Transformation. Widmark is a gifted pianist, with a voice similar to Phil Collins, and his positively rocking show effectively blended singer/songwriter and jazz styles into one uplifting set to start day four of the festival.
Altogether, the Stockholm Jazz Festival has had a truly phenomenal blending of gifted international artists, with numerous Swedish working bands like The Jacob Karlzon Quartet, Oddjob, and the Lennart Åberg Big Band leaving a wonderful impression on this writer.
This blog entry posted by David Tenenholtz