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Lars-Göran Ulander Trio - Live at Glenn Miller Café

Mark Patel, One Final Note

I knew absolutely nothing about Lars-Göran Ulander before listening to the Ayler Records recording of his trio at the Glenn Miller Café in Stockholm on August 25 & 26 of 2004.
Tragically under-recorded and hence under-recognized, Ulander is a master of his instrument, the alto saxophone, and a brilliant conversationalist in the improvised jazz medium. His bandmates, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are quite obviously thrilled to be along for the ride during this rare concert and recording session. The interplay of the three is also quite remarkable because of the fact that they had never played together before. Actually, it’s unbelievable, but I’ll take their word for it.

“Jazz music is more a method than a style as far as I’m concerned,” notes Ulander in the indispensable liner notes, and he hits on an important point, because this recording contains the work of three serious students of the music. Their give and take, their ability to listen, and their conversational approach are a wonder to behold (if only from the distance of this recording, and not a few feet away as were the lucky audience members)—which, of course, brings us to the conundrum of such great live freely improvised music.

As wonderful as the Ayler Records releases are with their impeccable sound and thoughtfully assembled notes and photos, this music is to be experienced live. The crowd packed into the GMC that night has music imprinted onto its brain matter that cannot be remotely understood by the listener of the recorded event. They saw the sweat and felt the notes, saw the expressions of musicians, and were participants in the conversation. We can just try our best to listen with our eyes closed and imagine ourselves there. If you love this music, I recommend you try.