Monday, August 21, 2006

Swedish roots music

I bought the disk "Lars-Göran Ulander Trio Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe," on the Swedish Ayler label, after reading that Ulander (on alto here) had been kind of the Coleman Hawkins to Swedish free jazz saxophonist Mats Gustafsson's Sonny Rollins.

Gustafsson, known for his work with Ken Vandermark, has been an interest of mine since I caught him with his group The Thing and guest Joe McPhee last year. He's on the Albert Ayler end of the free jazz spectrum as opposed to early Ornette Coleman, which wasn't all that out there. But I don't think that means he's inaccessible. I might say the same about Ulander, whose trio on the Ayler CD includes drummer Palle Danielsson and bassist Paal Nilssen-Love, the former another legendary Swede and the latter himself a member of The Thing (and one of the most manic, attacking drummers I've ever seen, although he's fairly subdued in this session).

"Tabula Raasa G.M.C." has kind of a Middle Eastern motif, while "Intrinsic Structure I" feels more like European classical music with Coleman-like snatches and great interplay between Ulander and Danielsson. The songs are freely improvised, but to my ear could hardly be considered unstructured, illogical, or slapdash in any way. "What Love" starts out like a conventional ballad before venturing into territory you couldn't have anticipated from that beginning. And this, perhaps, is what I appreciate most about the disk. You never know what's around the corner, making for something of a voyage of musical discovery, which I suspect is how the musicians felt about it as well. Lots of corners to go around and a concomitant number of surprises, too, in something like "Ionizacion-Variaciones E.V.," which last nearly 23 minutes.

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