Album Remarks & Appraisals:
This album features a characteristically broad programme, with original compositions by bassist Anders Jormin, group improvisations and works by Alban Berg, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and Silvio Rodriguez. Previously, Stenson has collaborated closely with Don Cherry and Charles Lloyd before beginning his trio in 1993.
"Bobo Stenson sings! Well, not literally, but the highly communicative and evocative qualities that characterize his music are indeed imbued of such conductive lyricism that it seems rather appropriate pointing outCantando (Spanish word for singing) is a well-chosen title.
Unpretentiously carving their place amidst the select cast of historically-significant piano trios, Stenson and longtime acolyte Anders Jormin reign supreme in the format's already charged heritage. Acclaimed for their distinctive European affect and approach as well as for the unparalleled sense of drama and adventure their collaboration conjures, the two Swedish bards in many ways recall the esteemed Bill Evans-Scott LaFaro tandem.
Taking shape through a wide-ranging repertoire of compositions originating mostly from their own portfolios - with personal favorites such as free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman, dodecaphonist Alban Berg, andnueva trova songsmith Silvio Rodriguez regularly adorning programs - the pair's admirable ability at covering a vast range of sounds and emotions attest to a too-rare, acute sensitivity. From doleful dirges, to florid, virtuosic flights, by way of warmly penetrating ballads and programmatic vignettes, their aptitude at conveying ideas and moods into telling musical stories is simply magnificent.
"Olivia," a melancholic waltz by Silvio Rodriguez, appropriately opens the session with an air of understated grandeur. Arranging the tune's repetitive, appeasing harmonies so as to insufflate Rodriguez's theme of a gently-rubbing, comfortable thrust - thanks to Jormin who sounds marvelous even entrenched in more traditionally-defined duties - the trio susses out the piece's essence, to the surfeit of Stenson's fancies.
Though examples proving the axiom that all great musicians are first and foremost great listeners abounds in Cantando, "Wooden Church" particularly evidences the players' acute listening skills. As Jormin's flickering bass fills entice Stenson into symbiotic exchanges, drummer Jon Fält - their usual touring cohort - weaves in and out of the wavering yet gelling flow, embroidering cloudbursted, percussive tapestries around his partners' permeable counterpoint. His crisp stick work - more rococo than the coloristic drumming of precedent recording partner Jon Christensen and Paul Motian's deconstructivist, minimalistic maneuvers - beguile at every turn. The result is a busy, three-pronged plenum that in itself spells out - more elusively than outrightly - the song's broken-up, not to say Cubist, phrasing.
Collaged from seven improvised impromptus by überproducer Manfred Eicher, the 13-minute, quadripartite piece "Pages" adds contrast to the heavily manipulated version of Astor Piazzolla's "Chiquilin de Bachin," and Don Cherry's mechanical construct entitled "Don's Kora Song." Besides the two takes of Petr Eben's rather uninspiring, pedal-point composition "Song For Ruth," Eicher's intuition for programming deserves yet again much laud.
Thrown into a magic ring only to come out an hour later completely spellbound, Cantando's exhilarating lyricism and mysticism succeeds in prolonging the spell set by its predecessors." -AllAboutJazz
JazzTimes (p.105) - "Stenson's extraordinary right hand turns any melody he plays into its austere essence, and, often, into devastating poignancy."
Personnel: Bobo Stenson (piano); Anders Jormin (double bass); Jon Fält (drums).
Recording information: Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland (12/2007).
Photographer: Jacky Lepage.
Arrangers: Anders Jormin; Bobo Stenson.
The Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson possesses a highly pianistic touch, similar to Keith Jarrett's but far more elegant and reserved than that of his American peer. Clocking in at 78 minutes, Stenson's latest trio session, CANTANDO, is a lengthy recital yet still varied in its distinctive choice of material--Astor Pizzaolla, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, even Alban Berg ("Lebesode")! Exquisitely produced by Manfred Eicher, the disc reveals a shifting tonal palette of subtle greys, whites, and blacks, with highly nuanced musicianship to match. Stenson is aided in his explorations by the able duo of bassist Anders Jormin (who also contributes two fine originals, "Wooden Church" and "M") and the deft percussionist, Jon Falt. Stenson's ruminative brand of improvisation can best be described as aristocratic Euro-jazz, ideal for those meditative afternoons at home or the cafe.
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