March 5, 2001
Walk, Stop, Look and Walk [Live]
Crazy Wisdom CW 004 013 112-2
Easy proof of jazz's universality comes when you read the liner notes for this rollicking session recorded live by a trio of top-flight Swedish improvisers. It turns out that the CD's final two tracks were recorded at Fred Anderson's Velvet Lounge on Chicago's South Side at the tail end of last year's Chicago Jazz Festival.
Then again, considering the strength and imagination the Swedes bring to the material here, it seems somehow appropriate that part of it was unveiled at ground zero for iconoclastic tenor man Anderson and his friends and comrades in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
Not that LSB's talents are only on display for overseas consumption. The other tracks find them going full throttle at Stockholm's Glenn Miller Café in front of an audience as enthusiastic as Chicago's.
Senior partner Raymond Strid has already matched wits with some of the best-known Continental and American players, including bassist Barry Guy, saxophonists Evan Parker and John Butcher and pianist Marilyn Crispell. He can function as a percussive swingmeister, as he does on the title track, then forcefully remind listeners that the drums are indeed a kit by gradually exposing every part of it, both in his solo and with his backing work on "Kurt".
Discoveries of the date are multi-reediest Fredrik Ljungkvist and forceful bassist Johan Berthling, who at 32 and 28 years old respectively show that a new generation of Scandinavian improvisers is holding up the music's high standards, which were first exposed in the 1950s. Known as a mainstreamer for work with his own band and others, Ljungkvist can easily produce a cavernous, bar walking tenor tone as he does on the title track. By the end, in fact, he gets into a fusillade of repeated notes that would make any Texas tenor proud. By contrast, on the aptly named "Leather Soul Walk", he produces an "outside", post-New Thing version of the sort of late night boudoir playing that Gene Ammons and Zoot Sims effortlessly turned out in the 1960s. And check out how his stop time sections impresses heard-it-all Chicagoans on "Different Directions" Ljungkvist's also a triple threat. Bottom-feeding baritone sax stylings give added heft to the earthy "Kurt", while his clarinet playing on "Ebony Swing" is both elegant and modern.
Possessor of seemingly endless stamina and an attractive dark tone, Berthling's pizzicato and arco work is frequently the fulcrum on which the other's solos revolve. Plus when he puts the support role aside, as on the title track, he demonstrates that he can easily hold his own in anyone's fast company with a guitar-like fluidity.
Incidentally, the two juniors made a slightly less frenetic, obviously less percussive, but almost as exciting date for LJ Records at the 1998 Umeå Jazz Festival with pianist Sten Sandell, who with Strid and reedman Mats Gustafsson — another frequent Chicago visitor — make up the improvising band Gush.
However with three more years of experience under their belts, WALK, STOP showcases these emerging talents even more. This is the one to tell your friends about. And remember these names as well. You'll be hearing a lot more from and about them in the coming years.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Ebony Swing 2. Walk, Stop, Look and Walk 3. Kurt 4. Kyrkitten 5. Leather Soul Walk 6. Different Directions 7. Natti-Natti.
Personnel: Fredrik Ljungkvist (tenor and baritone saxophones, clarinet); Johan Berthling (bass); Raymond Strid (drums)