Published: February 24, 2014
Prolific Swedish trombonist Mats Äleklint Quartet is the man of the hour. In recent years his powerful trombone sound has been an integral part of most of the forward-thinking Nordic outfits—Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra and The Thing XXL, Fredrik Ljungkvist’s Yun Kan 10, Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit, Goran Kajfes Subtropic Arkestra and Je Suis!. His debut as a bandleader features Äleklint as a thoughtful composer who fuses organically ‘in’ and ‘out’ playing within tight quartet interplay.
Äleklint is backed by strong and resourceful improvisers— reed player Per “Texas” Johansson, double bassist Joe Williamson and drummer Christopher Cantillo. Äleklint, Johansson and Castillo enrich the music with additional reeds and keyboards, enabling their sound to become bigger and richer.
Äleklint’s compositions stress the subtle, immediate communication between musicians. He sings with his trombone in a big and warm sound, sharing the leading role with Johansson, who expands and develops their flowing ideas. The rhythm section of Williamson and the restless, always imaginative Cantillo charges their interplay with tension and elements of surprise and humor.
The nine compositions emphasize Äleklint’s versatility as a composer, improviser and leader. On “Landet Runt” and “Nattbuss,” Äleklint and Johansson navigate between tight reciting of melodic themes and free abstractions while Williamson and Cantillo are busy fracturing the pulse and injecting weird, disturbing sounds. “Faller En Så…” melds the traditional swinging of Johansson on clarinet with the freer playing of Äleklint and the fast, busy rhythm section into one powerful unit. “Tulpaner Av Stål” is the most open-ended composition here, presenting the quartet in a muscular and energetic improvisational mode, with its supportive interplay intact. “Älgskog” unfolds as an arresting, dramatic story, narrated by four voices, each speaking from a different angle until all reach an enigmatic conclusion.
This is the powerful debut of a highly original musician.
Track Listing: Snabbt In, Snabb Tut; Landet Runt; Borgholm; Faller En Så…; Nattbuss; Hur Eller Dur; Tulpaner Av Stål; Braxen; Älgskog.
Personnel: Mats Äleklint: trombone, valve trombone, piano, thumb piano, pump organ; Per “Texas” Johansson: clarinet, tenor saxophone; bass clarinet; Joe Williamson: double bass; Cristopher Cantillo: drums, analog synth.
Record Label: Moserobie