Monday, December 05, 2005
Radio Jazz Gruppen Spektrum
RADIO JAZZ GRUPPEN SPEKTRUM
SR Records RELP 1193
Recorded 12-14 February 1973
1. Bäst Är
2. I Leksakslandet
1. Nu Slår En Blomma Ut
2. Min Syster Äger En Rosenkrans
Music by Georg Riedel (after text by Stig Dagerman)
Sveriges Radio Jazzgrup, with soloists
• Arne Domnérus; alto sax
• Claes Rosendahl; flute
• Lena Ericsson; vocal (soprano)
• Rune Gustafsson; guitar
• Bertil Lövgren; flugelhorn
• Lennart Åberg; soprano sax, tenor sax
• Palle Mikkelborg; flugelhorn, trumpet
• Erik Nilsson; baritone sax
• Bengt Hallberg; piano
It’s difficiult to know where to start with this LP. It’s an obscure Swedish album from the early 70s, brought back from a trip to Stockholm by an excited Stewart a few years back. His excitement was well placed as the music here is excellent, but first I’ll attempt to explain a little about the LP.
Scandinavia has always been a rich source of excellent jazz, and that music tends to have a sound very much influenced by the long dark nights and cold weather. That’s very much the case here, although this isn’t cold, soulless music – just listen to Lena Ericsson’s haunting vocal during the opening ‘Bäst Är’ or Erik Nilsson’s baritone sax solo towards the end of ‘Nu Slår En Blomma Ut’ for proof of that. It might be cold outside, and we might be in a relatively tranquil mood, but inside it’s warm and we’ll help to soothe your troubles away. It’s that kind of record.
In fact it’s the kind of record that they’re still making in that part of the world in particular, and in Europe in general – you just have to listen to some of the output of the ECM label to realise this. The music is wonderfully relaxing – it makes a fine going-to-sleep record - though there’s much more to it than that.
The opening ‘Bäst Är’ begins with a whisper of percussion before the choir set the mood with a typically meditative passage preceding a surprisingly bluesy Arne Domnérus. This is where the jazz element of this recording really hits you – for a moment you could be mistaken for thinking you’d stumbled across some contemporary classical music. Lena Ericsson’s vocal is next and sounds beautiful – the lyrics may be Swedish but there’s no doubting the emotion in her voice – the sadness and longing in her voice (‘Bäst Är’ translates roughly as ‘I’m Fine’ – she certainly doesn’t sound fine). The only other thing to say is that the responding flute of Claes Rosendahl sounds much the same way; there’s little happiness on either side of the situation being set out here.
The following ‘I Leksakslandet’ is even more strongly jazz in its feel. The opening interplay of piano, bass and drums sets up a feeling of tension that isn’t resolved until the entry of the Rune Gustafsson’s acoustic guitar at around 2:00. He goes on to play a superb extended solo with the rhythm section supplying support and new ideas all the way through – as well as a definite groove. The horns help out too, with support on the theme as well as thoughtful interjections throughout. The mood then turns dark and stormy again for side 1’s closing ‘Nocturne’, with synth textures acting as a backdrop to the interplay of Bertil Lövgren’s plaintive flugelhorn and Lennart Åberg’s soprano sax.
Side two repeats the recipe to great effect, with highlights being Lena Ericsson’s vocal, once again, as well as Erik Nilsson’s funky baritone sax solo towards the end of ‘Nu Slår En Blomma Ut’. This track features more cold synth textures that threaten, but never manage to dampen the spirit of the ensemble playing – this really is modern big-band jazz at it’s finest. A sense of tranquillity returns with ‘Min Syster Äger En Rosenkrans’, featuring as it does a haunting vocal by Lena Ericsson.