Bobo Stenson: A Fixed Goal


A Fixed Goal


Bobo Stenson (piano)


Cantando (ECM 2023)

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Bobo Stenson (piano),

Anders Jormin (bass), Jon Fält (drums)


Composed by Ornette Coleman


Recorded: Lugano, Switzerland, December 2007


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Bobo Stenson sounds a bit like Keith Jarrett in the way he approaches this lesser-known tune from the pen of Ornette Coleman—which shouldn't surprise, since the two pianists followed a roughly parallel course at one time in their careers. Each first recorded for ECM more than 30 years ago. Both have used many of the same musicians: in the '70s, Jarrett led a memorable quartet with tenor saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen. With Garbarek, Stenson co-led the same lineup (minus Jarrett) more or less contemporaneously. Both Stenson and Jarrett possess a lyrically romantic strain and a free-flowing melodic sense.

However, the passing years have seen their paths diverge, as this performance shows. Whereas Jarrett has become primarily an interpreter of the standard jazz repertoire, Stenson maintains his interest in freer structures. "A Fixed Goal" is the kind of start-and-stop, out-of-time tune that suits his abilities so well. He plays with a gentle yet precise touch. He states the theme in octaves, but tends to rely on single-note lines in his solo. The strategy gives the music a sparse texture, in which the occasional chord or parallel line becomes striking in contrast. Jormin has a swift technique and a dynamically sensitive manner that allows him to shadow and answer the pianist's ebbing and flowing. Fält is a light-handed drummer, maintaining an oblique swing while both embellishing the counterpoint and adding swaths of tonal color. This is head-and- heart stuff, attractive in every respect.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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