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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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NORBOTTEN BIG BAND
FEATURING JAN ALLAN

Jan Allan (80)

PROPHONE PCD154

 

 

    CD1

  1. Avid Flyer

  2. Och Vågorna Går Genom Stan

  3. Boye

  4. Öppet Hav

    CD2

  1. By The Window

  2. Between You And Me

  3. I Stole It

  4. Shades Of Blue

  5. Tema Med Komplikationer

Joakim Milder - Artistic Director

Jan Allan - Trumpet

Håkan Broström, Jan Thelin, Mats Garberg, Karl-Martin Almqvist, Per Moberg - Saxophone

Bo Strandberg, Magnus Ekholm, Dan Johansson, Jacek Onuszkiewicz - Trumpet

Peter Dahlgren, Arvid Ingberg, Urban Wiborg, Björn Hängsel - Trombone

Adam Forkelid - Piano

Christian Spering - Bass

Bengt Stark - Drums


There can't be many jazz musicians who hold a doctorate in particle physics, nor many jazz trumpeters who can play with such consummate ability at the age of 80 but Swedish trumpet maestro Jan Allan manages to tick both boxes. Although he was playing professionally (on piano as well as trumpet in those days) from about the mid 50s onwards, he only became a full-time musician in 1979. Nevertheless, he had acquired considerable experience with small groups and big bands alike by that time. His influence and stature has continued to grow over the years.

Here he is, then, featuring on a tribute album, dedicated to him, with the Norrbotten Big Band from northern Sweden. Under the direction of Joakim Milder, composer, saxophonist and professor of improvisation at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, the band have shown themselves to be among Europe's elite in this field. They have even appeared at the 2013 BBC Proms and subsequently toured with Django Bates in 2014, exploring the music of Prefab Sprout and Charlie Parker, a somewhat eccentric combination!

Seven musicians were invited to compose a piece in honour of Allan. Milder added two of his own compositions to complete the music for these two CDs. The effect is very easy on the ear. On the first disc, Öppet Hav especially grew on me as it developed, despite sounding at first like an orchestra tuning up (perhaps they were!).This semi-classical piece was both unusual and fascinating. There's a martial quality about it evoked by the drumming. Forkelid on piano contributes a fine solo, Allan is haunting on trumpet and an impassioned alto sax (Håkan Broström) surfs over the band's sound. On CD 2, three of the five tracks had special appeal. By The Window, a Milder composition, contains some delicate and wistful trumpet from Allan, a sure touch on piano from Forkelid and nimble, bell-like playing from Spering on bass. Allan is just a joy to the listen to in Between You And Me, a number which swings crisply. Broström joins in with élan on his own composition and the rhythm section is uniformly splendid. Shades Of Blue finds Allan taking this fine tune for a memorable outing in company with Karl-Martin Almqvist on tenor sax as the band riff behind the soloists.

This arbitrary selection of highlights should not detract from an overall appreciation of the band's quality or from the calibre of individual performances elsewhere on the discs. These include, for example, Peter Dahlgren's vigorous and inventive trombone on Boye or, for that matter, on Tema Med Komplikationer. Dan Johansson's exploratory flugelhorn on I Stole It is also worth hearing. Each listener will have their own favourites. In the end, though, it is the soulful Allan who demonstrates time after time that musically he is wearing extraordinarily well. This album will bring pleasure to any discerning listener.

James Poore



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