Per Henrik Wallin Trio - The Stockholm Tapes

Paul Donnelly, eJazzNews

Ayler Records can always be relied upon to provide fresh, muscular music that captures the essence of improvisation, something passionate and energised, and in another heroic rescue from oblivion, Jan Strom's maverick label brings us live sessions from Sweden's mid seventies jazz scene. This trio, eschewing bass, relies on the dynamics created by alto sax, piano and drums and covers a good deal of ground between ferocity and more reflective moods.

Saxist, Lars-Goran Ulander opens 'E.V.' with an unaccompanied meditation that gradually takes on an intensity as pianist Per Henrik Wallin and drummer Peter Olsen join him. A brooding tripartite improvisation evolves, waves rising and dissolving, as Ulander sketches and develops his ideas with some of the gravitas of Coltrane while the piano's undertow swells and ripples. Olsen is a sensitive drummer responding to both of the other players with swiftness and empathy.

He introduces 'Wuppertal' with more colourful percussion and sets the scene for brief but urgent piano and sax statements that open the way for a mercurial burst of improvisation from Ulander. The drummer, mostly through the judicious use of cymbals, constantly supports his torrential lines. Wallin's tumbling piano heightens the tension and the three embark on another roller coaster that sustains varied textures and dynamics.

A group composition, 'A Jive In July - 75, Live!', features more raw edged sax, clear and closely recorded, full of fire and energy. Again the drumming closely follows the horn, propelling and matching its inventions before the piano adds its own stabbing chords and runs. This is high energy music that retains a shape and direction, not merely blowing, each musician interlocking and contributing equally to the conversation. Moments of calm are rare, though there is a memorable solo from Ulander when he stretches and bends notes without either piano or drums for company.

It is reassuring that such concerts are being brought to the attention of listeners who may not be aware of these musicians, and I include myself in that category. I hadn't heard them before but now I'm curious to know what they've being doing throughout the intervening years.