Bobo Stenson

COMPOSERS: Bobo Stenson
WORKS: Serenity
PERFORMER: Bobo Stenson (p), Anders Jormin (b), Jon Christensen (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 536 611-2
Although Manfred Eicher’s Munich-based ECM Records has always had several American artists on its roster, part of the label’s ethos has been its commitment to European jazz. Eicher has consciously sought out European musicians who are able to project something of their own culture into a music shaped by the Afro-American experience. Perhaps his greatest success has been with Nordic musicians; indeed, with Jan Garbarek’s 1970 album Afric Pepperbird, Eicher produced an important jazz recording that projected an unmistakably European tone. Perhaps great Swedish jazz improvisers such as Lars Gullin and Jan Johansson, who incorporated folk elements into their improvisations, have inspired the evolution of a separate Nordic jazz tradition. Certainly Stenson, who has distinguished himself alongside American musicians, most notably Charles Lloyd, is able to move between the conventions of American jazz and a more fluid, European approach that allows for classical and folk influences to flow through his music. There is remarkable definition in his playing; he does not sacrifice rhythmic fluidity for mechanical exactness or lyric intensity for romantic indulgence, and leaves spaces for Jormin and Christensen to react intuitively and subversively. Stuart Nicholson