«Flourish / Depart» is the debut album of young Swedish guitarist Johan Lundberg, based on Malmö. Lundberg composed nine pieces for the Assembly, his bass-less quintet, featuring two sax players – Andreas W Andersson on tenor – the most experienced musician in the Assembly – and Hannes N. Bennich on alto, keyboards player Gustaf Rosenberg, who focuses on synthesizers, and drummer Mario Ochoa. Lundberg describes his compositions as «springboards for the group to explore shifting soundscapes where lyrical melodies, harmonic and sonic exploration and collective improvisation are keywords».
Lundberg’s compositions suggest a lyrical and impressionist version of fusion jazz, stressing clear melodic themes and leisured and emphatic interplay with almost no attempt to build tension or charge the the interplay with heated energy, except on «Gargantuan Love». The frontline of the sax players Andersson and Bennich with the breezy guitar of Lundberg caress the lush melodies, Rosenberg embraces this gentle dynamics with subtle, vintage synthesizer sounds, but dares more on the short interludes, while drummer Ochoa anchors it with solid time-keeping.
The most beautiful piece are the emotional, melancholic «December», where Lundberg captures the spirit of the season and its elusive feelings of a sad end of an era but also as a hopeful beginning with fragile, atmospheric guitar lines, and the delicate ballad «Pust (a slight movement of air)» that concludes this short album.
Johan Lundberg (g), Andreas W Andersson (ts), Hannes N. Bennich (as), Gustaf Rosenberg (synth, p), Mario Ochoa (dr)