50 year-old Swedish saxophonist Cennet Jonsson is well known in his native country from work with the Tolvan Big Band, the Peter Danemo orchestra, the Jonsson/Karlzon duo and the Stroman/Jonsson Project. In addition he has worked with Billy Cobham, Dizzy Gillespie, David Liebman, Michael Brecker and Kenny Wheeler, to name just a few. Jonsson also teaches improvisation and composes classical music.
Antelope Dance is the second album by his quartet, formed in 2001, with all of the music composed by the leader. Promotional materials state the compositions were been inspired by West African and Balkan rhythms and Nordic jazz-surrealistic colorful landscapes, as well as "jumping and dancing animals in a mystic unification on the Swedish savanna."
Jonsson’s melodies are all pleasant, tonal, decidedly singable, and the ensemble handles them with grace and ease. As the ensemble moves to the improvisation sections, however, there is a wide variety of styles exhibited. At times Jonsson aims for a style closer to the free jazz work of Evan Parker than anything close to tonal. His solo on "Baobop" is angular and complex, aiming to play off of drummer Peter Nilsson’s rhythmic propulsion rather than Mattias Hjorth’s bass lines.
By contrast, Jonsson’s solo on the lush ballad "Sweet Drops" is more lush than the melody itself, if that’s even possible. His lines and phrases play ultimately to the emotions, feelings and sentiment of human interaction. Hjorth’s solo is similarly beautiful. So melodic and harmonious are his lines he never makes you think he’s a bass player.
Guitarist Krister Jonsson shines on "Professor Nutty." He perfectly matches style with Cennet on the duo’s covering of the melody and then spins out craftily oriented and rock-ish harmonic constructs during his solo. At this point the ensemble becomes a true power trio as all three rhythm section members demonstrate rock band Rush-like rhythmic influences. Nilsson drives the solo relentlessly forward and Hjorth’s bass pounds and pushes his lines to the forefront. Cennet’s following solo is just as compelling. This disc is an excellent example of just how developed and far-reaching America’s classical music, jazz, has developed overseas.