Bobo Stenson Trio
Pianist Bobo Stenson goes about his work with deceptive poise, speaking softly and playing with breadth, subtlety and power. Only close attention brings his greatness to light.
On his latest trio recording, Cantando, the Swedish master ingeniously ventures outside the traditional boundaries of jazz. The album flows easily from the Latin-American turf of Silvio Rodríguez and Astor Piazzolla to pieces by Don Cherry (with whom Stenson played) and Ornette Coleman to the left-of-center standard “Love I’ve Found You.” Longtime bassist and creative ally Anders Jormin also contributes two lyrical compositions. For his part, Stenson concentrates on his interpretive and improvisational powers this time around, taking a composer credit only on the collaborative improvisation “Pages.”
Stenson has a remarkably seamless and almost stealthy way of crossing between jazz and classical techniques. For this occasion, he selects “Song of Ruth,” by Czech composer Petr Eben, who died shortly before this session. (The mind-bending track recalls the haunting repetitions on Arvo Pärt’s Für Alina, another ECM project.) It’s also no stretch for Stenson, the naturalist-modernist, to adapt the “Liebesode” of pivotal serial composer Alban Berg, which is played with an expansive collective poetry by Stenson, Jormin and notably sensitive new drummer Jon Fäit.
Stenson’s mark lies in the arrangements, the real-time invention and the comprehensive, cohesive vision, which is deeply rooted yet constantly evolving. One of the year’s finest.
- Joe Woodard