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«Jonathan Bäckström Quartet»

The Helsinki-based, Swedish-Finnish Jonathan Bäckström Quartet is led by young Finnish double bass player-composer Bäckström who works within the broader spectrum of jazz, free improvisation and contemporary music. The quartet aims to navigate and explore the music that is being created in the moment. The quartet features young and up-and-coming musicians – the front line of Finnish sax player Adele Sauros (of Superposition) and Swedish alto sax player-flutist Marcus Wärnheim, and Finnish drummer Benjamin Nylund. The self-titled album of the quartet is its debut album.

Bäckström devised this quartet’s sonic expression as alternating between minimalistic landscapes and explosive, multi-layered free improvisation, in a way that highlights the strong individual voices, as «interpretation is key,  and the collective spirit of the quartet». Bäckström explains that free improvised that free improvised music is «best experienced in the presence of now», and after extensive tours of the quartet in the last years he felt «it was time to capture the ‘now’ based on our raw live efforts thus far».

Seven of the eight pieces are freely improvised and suggest a powerful version of Nordic jazz. The quartet relies on urgent, spontaneous vibes that introduce experienced and opinionated improvisers who keep pushing their limits, but always keep cohesive structures, whether it erupts with boundless energy, discover subtle lyrical and openly emotional veins or expand its timbral horizons. Bäckström’s only composition here is the delicate and touching, chamber-like etude «White Like Silver» which has a predetermined form but leaves enough room for subtle improvisation. The short solo pieces of Bäckström, «Impromptu 1 & 2», stress his command of the bull fiddle and his extended techniques. Wärnheim contributed to this promising debut album the playful and beautiful «Oni! Oni! Oni».

Eyal Hareuveni

Adele Sauros (tenor saxophone), Marcus Wärnheim (alto saxophone, flutes), Jonathan Bäckström (double bass), Benjamin Nylund (drums)