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Altitude by Fredrik Kronkvist

Fredrik Kronkvist is without a doubt one of the hottest alto sax players on the Swedish Jazz scene or any Jazz scene for that matter. With his smoking attack and drive, Kronkvist has raised the bar a few notches. Playing in a style reminiscent of Phil Woods Bobby Watson and Azar Lawrence, Kronkvist has learned over the years how to draw heat from a melody and make it his own. A very much in demand musician, Altitude is the latest release from this gifted musician.

Harlem Nocturne has long been a favorite with many jazz musicians. Desert Night is a variation on this classic. With the sultry rhythms of the drum and sax melding into one gorgeous orgy of sonic delight and mystery. Tilling's scintillating piano only adds fuel to the proverbial fire. Fredriksson's mallet work is subtle yet effective. Evoking late night moods, the soft yet direct sounds of mallet hitting skin invite a low key response from Kronkvist.

With the intensity of a McCoy Tyner session circa mid seventies, Yemaya leaps and soars. The pulsating drive from Kronkvist, pushes the band higher and higher. The intensity meter is about to burst. There is no doubt that the studio was hot that day. Incredible rhythmic drive. After a few bars, it's quite clear that everyone is in a different space. Captivated by the moment, it is unbelievable how everyone is sharing this moment with fervor and gusto.

Isis is a funky number with Kronkvist playing the head, and taking a few bars before the rest of the band joins in for a satisfying session. Kronkvist continues to impress with his choice of notes and general feel for the piece.

Another hard driving vehicle, Close Race has some tricky changes. The band has no problem keeping up with this demanding chart. One of the qualities of note regarding Kronkvist is that he is a leader in every way. The way he leads the band with his effervescent style, harkens back to Dexter Gordon's approach to conveying a melody. Shades of Stitt and Wood's harmonic execution prevail in this piece.

Time to relax with Family Business. Another example of the control Kronkvist displays in his playing. He is always in the moment. Never straying.

Sjostedt's bass introduces us to a swinging number entitled Instinct. The band sails throughout. Pulsating sounds from Kronkvist. Swinging harder with every bar.

Kronkvist's snappy arrangements and excellent writing make this session one to remember. At the recent Stockholm Jazz Festival, Kronkvist had a chance to play with Roy Hargrove and his band. I am sure that Roy went back to America with a big smile on his face. Proof that Sweden has much to offer the Jazz world. Kronkvist being one of many excellent musicians who continue to improve and push the envelope. From beginning to end Kronkvist and the band swing hard. There are many rewarding moments. Altitude is a perfect name for this recording because after one listen, you will be soaring to a musical altitude most people rarely visit.

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