Four years after Cantando, a new album from the Bobo Stenson Trio - recorded in Lugano in December 2011 - explores a broad arc of material. Wide-ranging repertoire has become a hallmark of Bobo Stenson albums. But it's not just the eclecticism that is striking: Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Jon Fält take these far-flung sources and make an organic, breathing music out of them.
Stenson, of course, has long been one of the greats of Scandinavian jazz, and an ECM artist since the first years of the label (his recordings with Jan Garbarek in the 1970s were recently reissued as the boxed set Dansere). But there is a balance of energies in this particular trio - clear-edged lyrical piano playing, rootedness and keen choice of notes from the bass, and detailed, textural drumming - that is especially satisfying.
On Indicum can be found 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.
"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."
Personnel: Bobo Stenson (piano), Ander Jormin (double-bass), Jon Fält (drums)
'Stenson does not make that many discs but more or less every record he does make is a cracker. Indicum is no exception...the level of musical understanding and empathy here recalls the many marvels of the 1999 set Serenity.' -- Jazz Journal, (Michael Tucker) * * * * *
'There is a satisfying unity in the trio's sound, born of mutual understanding and a fearlessly creative approach to improvisation.' -- The Irish Times, (Cormac Larkin) * * * *
'Stenson makes the music his own with - apparently - the minimum of fuss, bringing each piece into his world of lyrical melodicism; where nothing is forced and is gracefully laid out before you with such clarity of thought it assumes a beauty and intensity that fails to diminish with repeated listening.' -- Jazzwise, (Stuart Nicholson) * * * *
'Indicum is as good as 2008's excellent Cantando...as with most Stenson albums, it repays repeated listens.' -- The Guardian, (John Fordham) * * * *
'The trio give a beautifully balanced performance. Stenson, Jormin and Falt support and match each other perfectly with some outstanding improvised performances.' -- The Northern Echo, (Peter Bevan)
'Stenson's trio is one of the most focused and subtly interactive units in contemporary jazz...absorbing, serious-minded, but imaginative and vibrant.'
--LondonJazzNews, (Chris Parker)