Apr 7 2014
Accentuating the tiny beating heart that fuels the huge sound of Om Alberto Och Nagra Andra Gubbar, Swedish ensemble Brigaden displays the kind of promise that one hopes for in a debut album.
A mix of folk and jazz, the double-saxophone attack provides an unending source of highly-charged electricity, while the addition of classical guitar and Hammond organ offer a counterbalance of delicate, ethereal ambiance. It’s an album that lifts off from the very first note. It’s music that dares to be Big, but never forgets to nurture the melodies that carry them there.
Your album personnel: Anton Jansson (guitar), Olle Vikström (baritone sax), Emil Nerstrand (tenor sax), Simon Petersson (double bass), Tim Bjuhr (drums), and guests: Robin Skarin (piano), Erik ”Errka” Petersson (Hammond organ), and Jimmy Nyborg (trumpet).
The album opens with the grand epics of “Moralen” and “Palme,” songs that hit liftoff from the opening notes. On both, Bjuhr’s insistent attack on drums spurs the ensemble on, while the wind instruments just take off and soar. On “Moralen,” Vikström’s solo on bari sax provides some nice lyricism on a song that is all about the pounding tempo and rich harmonies, while on “Palme,” Jansson’s classical guitar, utilized in a rhythmic capacity, works in tandem with Skarin’s piano to add some burnished and bright textures to opposite sides of the deep saxophone roars.
To have those tracks followed by the quiet “Postcolonial Lullaby” is a shift that’s all kinds of wonderful… a sonic eye-of-the-storm that, when experienced, is almost stunning, comparable to the way in which “Goodbye Blue Skies” provides a brief shelter from the dramatic surges of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”
The four-part “Alberto” suite lies at the heart of this album. Classical guitar meshes lovingly with Hammond organ on “Alberto I,” each possessing an atmospheric quality, distinct from one another yet distinctly complementary. “Alberto II” opens with the lithe tranquility of classical guitar and piano, and leads into passages of melodic saxophone sighs hunkered down between dramatic shouts to the skies.
It’s a pattern that continues into “Alberto III,” with the quaint mournful tones of its melody providing a delicious contrast with the celebratory shouts that surround them… long flowing statements of a supreme majesty. “Alberto IV” has guitar working the rhythm with Petersson and Bjuhr on bass and drums, as both saxophones slowly breathe out a lovely melody, the patient expressions letting the beauty linger just a few extra moments.
The sudden power-down effect is not as pronounced with the way in which “Skatteflykt” follows the dramatic ending of “Alberto IV,” but the solo classical guitar piece is still a strong change in pace. And this leads into the rapturous “Jan Stenbeck,” with its bold pronouncements and expansive voice, though tempered with a slight focus on individual articulation over mass intonation… it’s a return to the album’s opening sounds, just with a more nuanced display of personality. Nyborg and Nerstrand each have some outstanding moments in the spotlight on trumpet and tenor sax.
Intriguingly, the album ends with the moody “Den Gamla Goda Tiden,” a song with a rustic charm and a quiet soulfulness. Hammond organ and piano whistle different tunes that wrap up satisfyingly into a nice single bow, ending on a peaceful note that does nothing to diminish the album’s evocative nature, while providing a conclusion that allows for the space to contemplate the wonderfulness of the experience of this album in its entirety.
Released on Havtorn Records.
Jazz from the Malmö, Sweden scene.