Friday, May 28, 2010

Bengt Nordstrom in Terrific Form

The late Swedish tenor-clarinetist Bengt Frippe Nordstrom was an interesting stylist in the free zone. We covered an Ayler download release of his music earlier in the year, and I mentioned that, while that release had lots of interesting moments, there were other releases that were more definitive representations of his music.

Today we take a look at one of them. Frippe (Ayler) (2-CDs) documents his Environmental Control Office group at a Swedish club in 1988. It turns out that this was the last recording of the band and it's a good one.

Bjorn Alke and Peeter Uuskyla, bass and drums respectively, have a good loose togetherness throughout, whether it's a matter of swingtime, freetime, or a kind of rock beat feel. Lars Svanteson's violin playing has a post-Ornette outness that gives a nice timbral contrast to what Bengt is doing. Lars makes a worthy contribution to the direction and content of the solid block of improvisation over the course of the CD set.

Nordstrom puts in a very nice set of performances. He solos at length on tenor showing the eccentrically wide Albert vibrato in phrases that are short and explosive. On clarinet he sounds rather unique. Either way though his manner of melodic contouring shows an affinity with middle-period Don Cherry. There are fragments of folk and classical melodies taken up and discarded at will. There is a multi-keyed diatonic humming-to-yourself sort of stream of consciousness to his playing, spiked by outside eruptions.

Fripp hangs together from the first strains to the last. It gives solid and quite absorbing evidence of the importance of Nordstrom in the Swedish free music scene. And it's good listening.

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