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Per Henrik Wallin Trio - The Stockholm Tapes

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Artist: Per Henrik Wallin Trio

Album: The Stockholm Tapes

Label: Ayler

Review date: Apr. 6, 2005

Hollywood films bore me these days because I always see the same faces. When I watch a DeNiro performance, he smirks a lot and explodes in sadistic rages. Same goes for many historical jazz releases. When I hear a Coltrane solo, he spills dense flows of notes and soars into the ear-splitting stratosphere. Of course, Taxi Driver still disturbs and A Love Supreme still rivets, but we need new heroes. We need to excavate history and find the unsung ones who show us something new about mediums we thought familiar. For jazz, the Swedish pianist Per Henrik Wallin should be one of those new faces, and The Stockholm Tapes, a collection of four extended pieces recorded in 1975 and 1977, is a great place to start digging.

Wallin’s supporting cast is alto saxophonist Lars-Göran Ulander and drummer Peter Olsen. Without the gravitational pull of a bass, the three threaten on each piece to drift into deep space, generating throughout a weightlessness that forces musician and listener alike to focus on each moment of evolution. The trio takes their time, each track beginning with a long drum, sax or a duet passage. After Wallin enters, the trio rotates organically through a series of solo, duet or group combinations. Sometimes they build Sisyphean climaxes, like on “This Time is Next Time Now” or create mini-themes, like the playful , Monk-like steps that appear two-thirds of the way through “Wuppertal.”

Wallin, however, dominates the record. The pianist’s dynamic, mutating whorls envelope Ulander and Olsen’s more one-dimensional contributions. The latter two kick off “A Live in July-75, Live!” with deconstructed be-bop. Over Olsen’s snare strikes and bass bombs, Ulander blows lines that rapidly ascend, descend and smear. When Wallin finally joins, he transforms the piece into a titanic swell, the trio pedaling around his droning low-register chords.

In the space of a few bars, Wallin connects the disparate points of jazz – and much musical – history, then departs for his own rarefied territory. In the middle section of “E.V.” he flows from lyrical cadenzas to minimalist accents to knotty flurries and lands softly on a fleeting blues cadence before repeating it all again. Along with Caprice’s One Knife is Enough and Atavistic’s Burning in Stockholm, The Stockholm Tapes shows us a face any serious jazz listener should know better.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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