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På skive


«Step Up a Second!»

Swedish Pianist Lisa Ullén and sax player Anna Högberg premiered their composition for eleven musicians ensemble, «Step Up a Second!» at the Disorder Festival #2 at Fylkingen, Stockholm in September 2019. Ullén and Högberg describe this 33-minute composition as «jazz that throws itself out of the moment with great vitality, into the swarming complexities of our time».

The ensemble is comprised of close friends, most of them collaborated before on several projects. It features Högberg Attack musicians – Ullén, trumpeter Niklas Barnö, double bass player Elsa Bergman and drummer Anna Lund (Bergman and Lund also play in Ullén’s Motståndsorkestern (The Resistance Orchestra), and Bergman collaborates with Ullén in the Festen quartet ); Högberg’s partner, guitarist Finn Loxbo; clarinetist Per Texas Johansson and trombonist Mats Äleklint, who played with Högberg in Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra (Äleklint also plays in Ullén quartet and her Motståndsorkestern (The Resistance Orchestra), and also in the Fire! Orchestra); plus second pianist Sten Sandell, who also played in Fire! Orchestra and with Högberg in the Pan-Scan Ensemble, and like Ullén also plays the harmonium, violinist Eva Lindal, and tuba player Anton Svanberg.

Ullén and Högberg introduce the lyrical theme of this composition but «Step Up a Second!» was conceived as a unique framework for collective improvisation, with minimal individual solos. This composition emphasizes reflection and resistance to common structures of power, in music and at all. Different combinations of the ensemble musicians sketch detailed and conversational, kaleidoscope-like layers of sounds. These sonic layers are comprised of short, introspective gestures, that flow organically within the puzzle-like framework until the ensemble establishes a powerful interplay based on a strong pulse, which in its turn stresses the ensemble’s poetic aesthetics and its massive sound. Loxbo marks the collapse of the powerful collective improvisation and marks the shift into a sparse, minimalist drone, grounded by Svanberg’s tuba. A brief, playful duet of Ullén and Sandell leads back to the collective improvisation, now focusing on an almost silent, minimalist and nuanced interplay that cements the contemplative-reflexive spirit of this fascinating composition.

Eyal Hareuveni

Lisa Ullén (p, harmonium), Anna Högberg (s), Eva Lindal (vio), Per Texas Johansson (cl), Finn Loxbo (g), Sten Sandell (p, harmonium, v), Niklas Barnö (tp), Mats Äleklint (tb), Anton Svanberg (tuba), Elsa Bergman (b), Anna Lund (dr)


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