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Volume One by Double Standards

There is no doubt that jazz in Europe is alive and well. Indeed, musicians in different parts of Europe have not only shown that they can compete with the best American musicians--Italian vocalist Roberta Gambarini is currently carrying that flag--but, on their home turf, have incorporated uniquely European elements to extended the jazz genre and thus keep it evolving and vital. Scandinavian performers, for example, have managed to incorporate a sense of the quiet and expansiveness that characterizes their corner of the planet and somehow meshed it with the more urban language of bebop. Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek is perhaps the best known example of this particular fusion or elements, but this Swedish quartet has arrived at its own formulation.

Rather than original compositions, the quartet's approach is through the original treatment of jazz standards. These are well-known compositions, whose outlines surface long enough to be recognized, but which are gently de-constructed through the ruminations of pianist Karlzon and saxophonist Jönsson. "Long Ago And Far Away" is a case-in-point, the melody emerging briefly within Karlzon's introduction only to disappear beneath his Paul Bley influenced improvisation, appearing again, briefly, after Jönsson, who has listened to Steve Lacy as much as to Garbarek, has had his way with it. "Out Of Nowhere" similarly appears momentarily out of a lengthy cadenza on soprano from Jönsson, obliquely informing the subsequent improvisations. "Footprints" opens with a lengthy solo from Andersson which finally turns into the piece's bass motif. "I'll Remember April" is given a slow ballad treatment rather than the up-tempo romp afforded it by the average jazz players, while "United," one of Wayne Shorter's less well known compositions, is more of a brief motif that launches lengthy improvisations from both Karlzon and Jönsson, here heard on his only tenor outing of the date.

These are talented performers who have listened to what is going on in contemporary jazz but are giving it their own unique perspective. Their take on abstraction is fluid and graceful, and, above all, extremely musical. A second volume extends the group's approach to the treatment of Miles Davis' "Solar," the standards "Body And Soul" and "Old Folks," Mongo Santamaria's " Afro Blue," Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti," and Horace Silver's "Peace." A live album is also in the works. Seeking these out will take some effort but it will definitely be worth the trouble.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Double Standards
  • CD Title: Volume One
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Kopasetic Productions
  • Tracks: Invitation, Long Ago And Far Away, United, Out Of Nowhere, Footprints, All Of You, Ill Remember April'
  • Musicians: Cennet Jönsson (sop, ten) Jacob Karlzon (piano), Hans Andersson (bass) Peter Nilsson (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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