The Swedish new septet Sol Tors Taverna claims to be a kind of farm to table outfit, moving in a very short time reed to tape and string to the harp. This band is populated by picturesque characters who have embraced the immortal words of Eric Dolphy: «When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone in the air; you can never capture it again!» These seven musicians need not more than one take, in an intense recording day in the studio in Gröndal, Stockholm, with no pause between the pieces, to complete their «Vol. 1».
These friendly improvisers are alto sax player Gustav Rådström, with a voice as clear as the high coast-mountains he springs from; tenor sax player Oskar Carls, whose raw sounds owes much to the blues and punk; tenor sax player Pelle Westlin acts as the septet’s storyteller, restrained and explosive; fearless clarinet player Isak Hedtjärn, throwing himself in any music, without throwing in the towel; pianist Milton Öhrström, always with his tongue in cheek, hammering on the keys like he is possessed; double bass player Vilhelm Bromander, always with wood and strings in a lovely symbiosis; and last, main chef and tavern owner drummer Tor Sjödén, the very feeling and decisive pulse of Sol Tors Taverna.
The nine pieces celebrate this band seminal influences and its raw, immediate power, its democratic, leader-less ethos, and always spiced with eccentric Nordic humor. Sol Tors Taverna begins with a brief, energetic and chaotic cover of Ornette Coleman’s «Emotions» (as recorded by the New York Contemporary Five, featuring Archie Shepp, John Tchicai and Don Cherry, in Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen, Sonet, 1964) and with no pause, jumping to Westlin’s soulful ballad «Sång för Vänsterhänta» (Song for Left-handed), obviously, dedicated to all the left-handed people out there. Westlin’s second composition «Hambo», supposedly an old dance in Swedish, but actually a joyful opportunity for all musicians to stretch their muscles in the summer’s sun.
Bromander contributed two compositions, The first, «Mot kung och fosterland» (Against king and motherland), is a fiery, anti-royal, free jazz anthem. The second, «D dur», is a melancholic, fragile ballad that offers some rays of hope. Composer Linus Hillborg contributed a composition to the septet after watching it playing live at Stockholm’s Glenn Miller Café and titled it «Sänkt blues», a liquor-drenched blues with surprising leaps into many melodic worlds.
Hedtjärn’s «Wine Glass up Your Ass» focuses on a singalong theme, delivered playfully by him and sax players Rådström and Carls, but subverted methodically by pianist Öhrström and drummer Sjödén. Hedtjärn’s second composition «Hej Haden» sounds as nodding to Charlie Haden’s «Silence», suggesting a deep and quiet inner reflection. Bromander’s bass playing here reflects beautifully Hedtjärn’s sonic journey. Hedtjärn’s third composition, the contemplative «Ballad till gårdagen» (Ballad for yesterday), concludes this fine album, with a moving touch and another beautiful solo of Bromander. It reminds us that it is about time to leave the musical table and return to our farm-home, but without forgeting today’s or yesterday’s experiences.
Gustav Rådström (as), Oskar Carls (ts), Pelle Westlin (ts), Isak Hedtjärn (cl), Milton Öhrström (p), Vilhelm Bromander (b), Tor Sjödén (dr)