Album reviews

Lars Danielsson Liberetto – ‘Cloudland’

Lars Danielsson Liberetto – Cloudland
(ACT 9922-2. Album Review by Jon Carvell)

Cloudland is the fourth album from Swedish bassist/cellist/composer Lars Danielsson’s international supergroup Liberetto, featuring former Esbjörn Svensson Trio drummer Magnus Öström and Loose Tubes guitarist John Parricelli.

On piano is a newer talent in the form of Grégory Privat, and the Martiniquan has had the unenviable task of filling Tigran Hamasyan’s shoes since 2017. Privat worked in an office until he was 27 before going full-time into jazz, but he’s very much at home as part of this august quartet. He’s a pianist who knows when to hold back (such as on Sacred Mind) and when to set off the fireworks (such as on Villstad), something crucial in a group as carefully calibrated as this.

There’s a lot of complexity and craft at play in these pieces – the album’s title track exists in a time signature somehow involving the number 17 – but rather than sounding contrived, the end result is organic and ultimately melodic. Legendary Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen lends his customary breathy tone and half-valves as a guest artist, whilst fine textures pass from Danielsson to Privat to Parricelli, with Öström adding subtle percussive tones through tabla and handpan.

Elsewhere, Syrian clarinettist Kinan Azmeh joins for a refined turn on Intermezzo and ornamented acrobatics on Desert of Catanga. Danielsson’s talent is to step out of the pigeonhole usually reserved for bassists and to place himself centre stage melodically, for instance on the perfectly pitched Imagine Joao, which he shares with Parricelli, or on album opener Vildmark. This very first track showcases a five-string bass-cello instrument from the 1700s that Danielsson rebuilt, and the piece’s solo evocation of the wilds of the Arctic Circle presents the perfect canvas for the wide horizons of Cloudland that follow.

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This is an album that feels distinctly Scandinavian, but is given breadth and depth through its global melting pot of influences. The quality and maturity of the playing on display underpin Danielsson’s prioritisation of melody – never trite, never saccharine – with every detail rendered exquisitely.

Cloudland was released on 28 May 2021

LINK: Cloudland at Bandcamp

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