2006
d


Bobo Stenson
(Sweden)

Bobo Stenson has effectively defined the meaning modern piano in Sweden since the late 1960s. Early in his playing career he accompanied a long line of visiting American players, including Sonny Rollins, Starr Getz arid Gary Button, worked closely with Don Cherry from the beginning of the trumpeter's residency in Scandinavia, was a member of George Russell's Nordic orchestra, played with local giants such as the still-too-little-known tenorist Bent Rosengren. He first recorded in April 1971 on the album Sart (ECM 1015), with Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen. The following month his trio album Underwear was taped: this was certainly one of he first European piano trio albums that could he considered as a response to American developments in post-Bill Evans piano. Stenson had obviously monitored the mixture of lyricism and abstraction that fuelled the early trios of Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett but was able to assimilate this influence in a style which even then was clearly his own and his interaction with Norwegian drummer Christensen was already remarkable. Christensen and the pianist continued their creative association through the mid-1970s in the popular ]an Garbarek-Bobo Stenson Quartet (they swept the Jazz Forum poll year after year), whose recorded legacy is the albums Witchi-Tai-To and Dansere. In a five star review of Witchi-Tai-To, Down Beat suggested that Stenson's soloing was "more melodically aware“ than McCoy Tyner's, and praised the group for the way in which "it burned with a brilliant flame, forging a sturdy sound within a classic tradition." The latter assessment is apt: Stenson has always been both a forward-looking player and a player very conscious of jazz history.
The late 70s and easy 80s found the pianist concentrating primarily on the development of his Swedish projects, particulary the cooperative band Rena Rama (with Lennart Äberg and Palle Danielsson - and, in a later incarnation of the group, Anders Jormin) whose discography includes the album Landscapes. In 1988, he joined the revamped Charles Lloyd Quartet, and played on Lloyd's four ECM albums, Fish Out Of Water, Notes From Big Sur, The Call and All my Relations.