Bobo StensonSerenity (ECM)
Reviewed by Harvey Pekar, Fri., June 16, 2000
Serenity (ECM)Since the late 1960s, Bobo Stenson has been a major jazz pianist not well known in the States, because he's based in Sweden. His work is reminiscent of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, but he developed a unique style decades ago. This exquisite 2-CD set with bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Jan Christensen demonstrates not only his, but the trio's consummate artistry. There's some free playing and covers of works by Alban Berg, Charles Ives, Hanns Eisler, Wayne Shorter, Cuban Silvio Rodriguez, and legendary 19th-century Swedish folk musician Lorens Brolin. The group's style, however, remains consistent. Their playing is lyrical and reflective, with a lot of collective improvisation and Stenson opening up his solos so Christenson (an excellent colorist) and Jormin can be heard. The bassist and drummer function as far more than accompanists, implying but not explicitly stating the beat. In this way, their work has connections with the trio style of Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro, and Paul Motian, but again the mode is their own. Stenson exhibits a lovely touch and singing timbre; his melodic ideas are fresh and cliché-free, and he's a master of rhythmic displacement. Jormin articulates so cleanly and effortlessly it seems he has plenty of chops in reserve, and is also an excellent arco player. If you dig people like Evans, Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock, check this set out. It's nearly perfect.