December 17, 2018
Stillness & Sirens
Proof that musicians with the appropriate skills and attitudes can still create a blistering Jazz piano trio session in the 21st Century is the message of Stillness & Sirens. Crucially though, the Swedish Yokada trio just misses attaining the summit of achievement by staying true to its self-imposed limitations. The brief (37 minute) disc does reach the zenith of FreeBop creativity. But had the three played just a little more experimentally, they could have wound more strands of abstraction into their attractive seven-track debut.
Consisting of pianist Alex Zethson, who has worked with the Fire! Orchestra and Angles 9 among other bands and who composed all seven tracks; bassist Johan who has played with stylists ranging from Sten Sandall to Oren Ambarchi; and drummer Johan Holmegard, who played in the Fire! Orchestra as well as rock band Dungen, each musician contributes to the program, whether it is “Marbles”, which could be described as a modal ballad with guts, or the appealing “Every Impossible Revolution”. The second is the CD’s busiest, most provocative and dramatic outing with the pianist stabbing and slashing Blues-like choruses from the keyboard with every note ringing clearly, as Berthling concocts double-stopping variations. Sizzling cymbal color and bass drum battering pitch “Marbles” into a collection of thematic variations, featuring appropriate pops from the double bass strings, as Zethson piles mountains of notes onto the melody until it finally settles down into reflective patterns. Other stand-outs include “Faceless”, a swift Andrew Hill-homage with wood-block clacks, a steady pulse and a notable turnaround from the pianist following tremolo patterning; and the concluding “Repeat, Dance, Forget” a Herbic Nichols-oriented romp which mates an enhanced color spectrum from the keyboard as Zethson chops out distinctive notes.
Overall though, as good as the performance is, it’s still firmly wedded to the post-Bop 20th Century, The trio members have the chops and creativity to venture even further out and perhaps they’ll do so next time. Still, Stillness & Sirens is still notable as is.
Track Listing: 1. Portrait of a Portrait 2. Marbles 3. Faceless 4. Every Impossible Revolution 5. Cloudspotting 6. Henry's Vacation 7. Repeat, Dance, Forget
Personnel: Alex Zethson (piano); Johan Berthling (bass) and Johan Holmegard (drums)