Sunday, November 1, 2009

CD of the Month - "Anders Bergcrantz: About Time"

CD of the Month
Anders Bergcrantz: "About Time" (Stunt)

When my dear friend & long time idol Randy Brecker, Creed Taylor's top choice for the trumpet chair of the CTI All-Stars 2009 tour, told the producer that he couldn't make all concerts, the young Swedish master Anders Bergcrantz was invited to replace Brecker in such nights.
Both the audience and the other CTI members loved Anders, and it's not difficult to find out why. If you missed the CTI concerts, all you need to do is listen to any of Bergcrantz's solo albums.
One of them, "About Time," is our pick for CD of the month. Recorded in Stockholm, released on the Copenhagen-based Stunt label with digipak cover and great artwork by Lars Pedersen & Stephen Freiheit, it includes nine tracks written or co-written by Anders Bergcrantz. All extremely interesting & intriguing, including some a couple of miniatures, "About Time" and "Solo/Duo Ad Libitum" played only by flugelhorn & trombone. "Only" is a bad word: throughout the whole album, the sounds and the approaches of Anders and virtuoso trombonist Vincent Nilsson (a 30-year member of the Danish Radio Big Nand), who shares the frontline with the leader, are so intertwined that sometimes they sound like a single instrument. Or like two instruments played by the same musician, a la Roland Kirk. Or he could even say that sometimes this trumpet/trombone (or flugelhorn/bass trombone) combination sounds like a larger horn section. Btw, since the Jim Pugh-Dave Taylor album for DMP 25 years ago, I hadn't been so impressed by a trombonist performance like I'm now feeling astonished with Nilsson's playing on "About Time."
Bergcrantz' quintet proves to be a highly cohesive group, guided by a musician who takes the tradition of giants like Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw and Lew Soloff (ok, I'm not mentioning Miles, but he was hors-concours) and brings such tradition to his own musical world, playing with personality, sophistication, energy and creativity. Anders Bergcrantz is his own man, no doubt about it.
Highlights: the fiery hard-bop "Dedication" that showcases Anders' crisp attack, the somber/misterioso "Pavo," a lush Mancini-tinged bossa nova titled "While My Horn Gently Weeps" (great bass solo by Lasse Lundstrom), a groovy "Cochise" (on which the leader masterfully uses a mute, Lennart Gruvstedt demonstrates his impeccable brushwork, and Jacob Karlzon solos with aplomb; a tune not to be mistaken with the Ray Santos' "Cochise" latin hit for Tito Puente covered by Ed Lincoln in the 60s and Fabio Fonseca in 2008), and the energetic closer "Runeberg." 5,000 stars.

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