Fredrik Lundin – 5 Go Adventuring Again
(Stunt Records. CD Review by Peter Slavid)
There are some words that don’t appear very often in jazz CD reviews. You rarely see the adjectives “spooky”, “brooding” or “dramatic” because jazz doesn’t often go down that path. However, this new CD from Danish saxophonist Fredrik Lundin needs all of those words and a few more besides.
It starts with the eight-sided black-and-white cover which is full of dark mysterious pictures – including the occasional ghost. Then the tune titles continue the theme with The Hound of the Baskerville, The Pond, and Being in a Dark Place. The liner notes expand along the same track. On Borderland for example, they talk about disappearances, mental breakdowns and a border between reason and madness.
The instrumentation is unusual too. Fredrik Lundin (tenor, mezzo soprano and baritone saxophones) Tomasz Dabrowski (trumpet); Petter Hangsel (trombone, sylo synth); Joel Illerberg (bazantar); Anders Provis (drums, spds drumpads) plus Jesper Lovdal (contrabass clarinet on first track).
Part of the unique sound undoubtedly comes from the bazantar. Invented 20 years ago, it’s a rarely seen five-string acoustic bass fitted with an additional twenty-nine sympathetic strings and four drone strings, rather like a bass sitar in appearance. In places this gives the overall sound some hints of India or of the Middle East. Elsewhere it just seems to add to the generally rather spooky sound of the music as do the other unusual instruments – the mezzo soprano sax, sylo synth and spds drumpads.
But at the core of the music the three front-line soloists turn in terrific performances. Dabrowski’s trumpet starts the track Crumbling Castles with a powerful dark brooding solo and the track continues with an almost orchestral sound that reminded me of some early Carla Bley. Hangsel’s trombone takes the lead on Being in a Dark Place over a similar mysterious orchestral sound. Of course there are lighter moments. Despite the title, Dodging Bullets lets Lundin exercise his very substantial melodic and improvisational skills over the riffing horns. And the final track sounds almost sweet and delicate.
This is a most unusual CD. The dramatic and dark nature of the arrangements and solos is rare. The compositions would make a good soundtrack for a Gothic horror film, and it may take a second listen to settle in to the atmosphere – but it’s definitely worth it!