Swedish, Stockholm-based Staffan Bråsjö is a jazz pianist by trade but equally dwells in the counterpoint of Bach, and conducts Enskede-Årsta boys choir. «Stratosfär» (Stratosphere in Swedish) is his debut album as a bandleader, accompanied by the gifted violinist Josefin Runsteen (who played in Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra and with Damien Rice and Ane Brun), who also plays the mandola and percussion, and double bass player Vilhelm Bromander (known from his collaborations with Sten Sandell, Christer Bothén and Lisa Ullén). The album was recorded at Årsta kyrka in Stockholm in December 2020.
The stratosphere is used here as a sonic metaphor. Just like it is a meteorological counterpart, the stratosphere is also a high musical destination. Bråsjö, Runsteen and Bromander are well-versed in classical and contemporary music as well as in modern jazz and free improvisation, and Bråsjö’s chamber compositions and arrangements highlight his far-reaching and genre-bending musical vision as a composer and musician. His romantic description of «Stratosfär» finds «contrapuntal dialogues from Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony perceive, sharing room with voices from an archaic chorale, surrounded by improvisations drenched in the perfume of Parisian fin de siècle».
«Stratosfär» leans more towards the chamber, contemporary side with its contemplative and reserved, reverent and introspective compositions. Bråsjö says that his music draws inspiration from the sacred sentiment provoked by the encounter of the natural sciences. Still, Bråsjö’s compositions also stress the simplicity and rhythmical impulse that is so common in Nordic jazz, with generous touches of melancholia. The trio really shines when there is more room for playful, gentle improvised dialogs on «Archaeopteryx», «Begravelse» and «Butterflu», or the touching, folky melody «I jordens mull», and the hymn-like title peace.
Bråsjö’s beautiful nine compositions make «Stratosfär» a highly personal and impressive statement.
Staffan Bråsjö (p, org), Josefin Runsteen (vio, mandola, perc), Vilhelm Bromander (b)