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Aaly Trio + Ken Vandermark - Stumble (Wobbly Rail, 1998)

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The Scandinavian AALY Trio of Mats Gustafsson on saxophones, Peter Janson on bass, and Kjell Nordeson on drums is joined by American milti-reedist Ken Vandermark for an album that veers away from the very loud and boisterous free jazz they are normally associated with into more subtle and nuanced terrain. It makes for an interesting departure, Gustafsson and Vandermark can be unfairly categorized as leather lunged blowers, although it takes a great deal of concentration on the part of the listener to stick with them when they play soft and subtle music. The opening “Stumble" sets the stage with a long improvisation working in a dreamlike fashion with smears of saxophone along with quietly rumbling bass and drums. “Umea" was the most interesting track on the album for me as they slowly develop into a strong driving free improvisation with the saxophones developing anguished wails of sound. Charlie Haden's “Song for Che" is an interesting choice for a cover, giving Janson a long time to stretch out with an impressive bass solo to open the track before the performance develops into a long subtle improvisation. Fans of slowly developing atmospheric free jazz with be right at home here, while short attention fans like me might enjoy their album Live at the Glenn Miller Cafe which has a much more visceral and immediate impact. Stumble—amazon.com

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