Reviews that mention Sten Sandell

February 16, 2018

Pan-Scan Ensemble

Air and Light and Time and Space
Hispid Records HISPI 007/ PNL Records PNL 035

Angles 9

Disappeared Behind the Sun

Clean Feed CF405 CD

Neither fish nor fowl, the small big band is actually more like a crossbred dog, which combines the best qualities of each strain. For instance a nonet such as the Scandinavian bands featured here, offers the power of larger ensemble with the flexibility of a combo. Formulated individually, these rip-roaring sagas take disparate paths to achieve a similar level of animation.

Representing all three Scandinavian countries, Air and Light and Time and Space, is a throwback to Jazz’s fabled jam session and resulted from an Oslo party-gig hosted by local drummers Paal Nilssen-Love and Ståle Liavik Solberg. Other participants in these extended Jazz-at-the-Philharmonic-styled jams are fellow Norwegian trumpeter Thomas Johansson, Danish saxophonists Lotte Anker and Julie Kjær; plus Swedish trumpeters Goran Kajfes and Emil Strandberg, saxophonist Anna Högberg and pianist Sten Sandell. Members of various bands, all have some association with Nilssen-Love. MORE

September 3, 2017

Konvoj Ensemble

Konvoj Records KOR 008

Parker & RGG


Fundacja Słuchaj FSR 01

At this point, a half-century into his professional career, there’s very little British saxophonist Evan Parker hasn’t done musically. Yet like the golden-ager who decides to learn to fly a plane, Parker, 72, is open to new challenges and situations. The saxophonist, who has been a constant presence in Continental bands since his twenties lends his expertise and flair to two Northern European ensembles. . MORE

September 26, 2016

Santos Silva/Anker/Sandell/Zetterberg/Falt

Life and Other Transient Storms
Clean Feed CF379CD

Santos Silva/Wodrascka/Meaas Svendsen/Berre


Barefoot BFREC048CD

Schisms may be appearing in many countries of the European Union, but you certainly wouldn’t believe that’s happening if you follow the careers of some of the continent’s busiest improvising musicians. Like programmers, scientist or others with transferable skills, they’re as apt to be regularly found in two or three countries besides their own working with players native to even more dominions. MORE

May 22, 2016


The March
Konvoj Records Kor 005

The Thing



More than a quarter century after he almost literally blew into public consciousness as a Swedish augmentation of the corybantic Peter Brötzmann-Albert Ayler saxophone tradition, multi-reedman Mats Gustafsson has continued to develop manifold playing styles. Like the comic actor who scores in dramatic parts while retaining a commitment to comedy, Gustafsson bounces from intense, atonal improvisations to other settings where burly rhythm is as much a construct as atonal scrutiny. MORE

October 1, 2015

Festival Report

By Ken Waxman

Multi-media, theatricalism and electronics were the motifs that kept cropping up during the Météo Festival (August 25-29) in this Alsatian city known for its textile industry and unique German-French flair. There were also plenty of intense improvisations in its venues, confirming the continued strength of the 33-year-old festival.

Artistic mixing was most prominent during Météo’s opening concert in the Italianate 19th Century Théâtre de la Sinne as the French Surnatural Orchestra interacted with a screening of Italian director Dario D’Aregento’s 1975 slasher film Profondo Rosso. Unlike most music-with-cinema programs where live playing is subordinated to the visuals, this bloody over-the-top Hitchcock-Goddard-Fellini pastiche was frozen at various junctures for limber solos by a dancer, a speaker’s pseudo-pretentious film analysis, a scream from the stalls, cabaret style singing and a Second Line march through the audience. Still, no sonic moments stood out, and the exercise could be liked to someone decked out in full Carnaby Street fashion surmounting the outfit with a Viking helmet. MORE

November 6, 2014

Sten Sandell & Paal Nilssen-Love

Rune Grammofon RCD 2159 CD

Zlatko Kaučič/Augustí Fernández

Sonic Party

NotTwo MW 912-2

Recorded live slightly more than a week apart at different European festivals, two accomplished piano-drums duos demonstrate the width and breadth of concentrated improvisations on these discs.

All the players are peripatetic veterans, who have worked with other masters of the genre(s) like saxophonists Peter Brötzmann and Evan Parker; and each set of players brings am individual sensibility to the interface. Perhaps by happenstance the two Southern Europeans – Spanish pianist Augustí Fernández and Slovenian percussionist Zlatko Kaučič Zlatko Kaucic appear more committed to the Jazz tradition, while the two Northern Europeans – Swedish pianist Sten Sandell and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love – operate more within the realm of Free Music. Each approach is equally suitable and significant MORE

June 13, 2013

Festival Report:

Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon
By Ken Waxman

Metaphorically and literally the 2013 edition of the Ulrichsberger Kaldeidophon moved further afield than usual for a festival that has taken place annually at the Jazzatelier in this Austrian alpine village of 3,000 inhabitants near Linz. Not only were improvisers from the UK, US, Eastern and Western Europe represented, but for the first time, a concert for clavichord by Japan’s Makiko Nishikaze took place in a restored 14th Century church in Glöckelberg/Zvonkonva, about 10 kilometres away in the Czech Republic. MORE

March 19, 2011

Sten Sandell Trio

Face of Tokyo
PNL Records PNL004



Bassesfere BS014

Putting new spins on the delicate art of the Jazz piano trio are these two ensembles which produce notable work with their approaches the situation. Instructively enough each trio operates with the similar variables: a dominant drum stylist is linked with a solidly inventive double bass player plus an exploratory piano soloist who is comfortable playing both inside and outside.

On Face of Tokyo, the veteran player is Swedish pianist Sten Sandell, who has been that country’s paramount experimental keyboardist since the 1980s, most prominently in bands with drummer Raymond Strid and saxophonist Mats Gustafsson. His cohorts are almost a generation younger. Bassist Johan Berthling, a fellow Swede, has partnered figures as diverse as Free Jazz saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist and microtonal guitarist Oren Ambarchi. Norwegian percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the busiest drummers in the world, in ensembles ranging from Atomic to Peter Brötzmann’s Tentet. The ratio is reversed on LAIV. Here drummer Han Bennink, from the Netherlands is the old hand, having worked with most important figure in Free Jazz since the mid-1960s, including Brötzmann and is best-known for his long-time membership in the ICP Orchestra. Another Amsterdam-based ICP member – though a bit younger than the drummer – is bassist Ernst Glerum, who has also partnered Bennink in many combos. The youngest member here is Bologna-based pianist Fabrizio Puglisi, member of the Bassesfere Collective, who has worked with everyone from ICP cellist Tristan Honsinger to Italian drummer Zeno De Rossi’s different bands. MORE

July 18, 2010

The Godforgottens

Never Forgotten, Always Remembered
Clean Feed CF 164 CD


Theater Tilters Vol. 1

Jazzland Recordings 273339-7

Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are the soldering points of both these CDs. However, not only is each disc significant in its own way, but the thought process involved in creation is as different as the other musicians involved.

Energetic Young Lions with class, the five members of Atomic have put together a CD of hard-hitting originals whose ball-in-socket performance speaks to the group’s constant touring over the past decade. Two other Atomics are Norwegian – pianist Håvard Wiik and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – and one, multi-reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist – is Swedish. Leaders in other circumstances – as are Nilssen-Love and Broo – collectively the players have worked in different groups in Europe and North America, with fellow Scandinavians, Americans, such as multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and pianist Marilyn Crispell plus Germans, including saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and trumpeter Axel Dörner. MORE

November 7, 2005


Atavistic ALP 161CD

After more than 17 years together, the members of the Swedish-based GUSH now operates as three interlocking parts of one perpetual motion machine.

Occupied enough with other projects, the three – reedist Mats Gustafsson, pianist Sten Sandell and drummer Raymond Strid – bring a complementary desire for melded invention when they unite, as they did in Norrköping in 2003, for this, the band’s first-ever domestic release in North America.

Fully in command of all elements of its instruments, the trio elaborates its thoughts over the course of three long selections of almost 19 minutes, more than 13½ minutes and more than 26½ minutes each. Best known of the three is now Gustafsson, who plays soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones and fluteophone, alto fluteophone and French flageolet here. Veteran of large groups led by German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and British bassist Barry Guy, as well as smaller bands with American saxophonists Joe McPhee and Ken Vandermark, Gustafsson is as easily at home in the United States as Europe. Inventive timekeeper Strid also works in Guy’s large groups as well as smaller bands. Sandell, not only improvises with Scandinavian players like saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist, but as a graduate of Stockholm’s Academy of Music nurtures a fascination for electro-acoustic and contemporary so-called serious music. MORE

May 2, 2005


Live at Glenn Miller Café
Ayler Records

psi By Ken Waxman
May 2, 2005

Swedish guitarist David Stackenäs has been someone to watch every since he released his remarkable solo session, The Guitar, on Häpna five years ago. Since that time he’s extended his early promise, playing with a variety of improvisers ranging from Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson to American multi-reedist Ken Vandermark.

Recorded one month apart last summer in Stockholm and London, the most recent CDs on which he’s featured, suggest that he may be at a crossroads. Live at Glenn Miller Café, featuring local band Surd – Fredrik Nordström on alto and tenor saxophones, bassist Filip Augustsonon and drummer Thomas Strønen as well as the guitarist – in a speedy freebop romp that at points veers awfully close to fusion-like excess. Far superior is the more than 71½-minute Gubbröra, which matches Stackenäs with four veteran improvisers. Duos with fellow Swede Sten Sandell on piano, voice and electronics, make up the first two tracks; the third adds Sandell and Stackenäs to the transcendent British trio of Evan Parker on soprano and tenor saxophones, Barry Guy on bass and Paul Lytton on drums. MORE

May 10, 2004

Sten Sandell Trio

Flat Iron

By Ken Waxman

May 10, 2004

Undeniably tough as iron, but with all the striations and curves on show, the music produced by this Scandinavian trio is anything but flat. Listening to the three tracks on this CD, you’ll note how in the right hands, standard jazz trio instrumentation can be molded into take-no-prisoners free improv.

With his harsh, jabbing piano lines, leader Sten Sandell has been exhibiting his stylistic influences from folk and ethnic musics, contemporary classical and improv since the late 1970s. Gush, a Swedish co-op he’s part of with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and percussionist Raymond Strid, is how most non-Swedes know him. But he’s also scored for music for film and dance performances and even recorded in duet with American saxist Ken Vandermark. MORE

March 17, 2003


Two Days in December
Wobbly Rail 012

THE VANDERMARK 5 Free Jazz Classics Vols. 1 & 2
Atavistic ALP1372CD

Okka Disk 12050

Ken Vandermark seems to put out more discs in a year than some earlier jazzmen did in a career. But if he keeps turning out fine sessions like this single CD (ATLAS) and two double CDs, then there's little reason to complain.

Like other improvising musicians before him, the multi-reedman realizes that the best way to keep things fresh is to consistently change playing situations. On these five discs the circumstances range from a series of duos with four different Swedish improvisers (TWO DAYS); 13 recreations of 1960s-1970s advanced jazz standards with his regular quintet (FREE JAZZ); and a speedy romp through four original compositions as part of a 12-piece mixed American/European band (ATLAS). MORE

July 16, 2001


Standing Wave
SOFA 504

Sticks & Stones
SOFA 505

Taking the traditional jazz piano trio one step forward into the future, this admirable CD also shows off the advanced instant compositional skills of some of the musicians who live on the roof of Northern Europe.

Consisting of two Swedes -- pianist Sten Sandell and bassist Johan Berthling -- plus Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, the band is just one of the three musicians' ongoing projects. Leader Sandell, whose interests encompass contemporary composed and ethnic music as well as free improvisation is best-known for his association since 1988 with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and percussionist Raymond Strid in Gush. Young bassist Berthling, is part of a working trio with Strid and saxman Fredrik Ljungkvist, and has toured with Gustafsson and saxist Ken Vandermark. Understated drum stylist Nilssen-Love not only played with Norway's Free Jazz father, saxophonist Frode Gjerstad, but also was part of the School Days quartet with Chicago's Vandermark and trombonist Jeb Bishop. MORE