Not only had these three musicians never played as a trio before, they had not performed in the same groups. Ayler Records' own Jan Ström invited Swedish saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar to make up his free jazz dream trio for a performance/recording at the Glenn Miller Café, a reputed Stockholm improvised music joint. Both bassist Peter Janson and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love have been busy on the local, European, and (in the latter's case) American scenes. Live at Glenn Miller Café, Vol. 1 documents the second of two evenings. The tentative moves of a first encounter, not unlike the dance steps two boxers do to study their opponent at the beginning of a fight, hold their interest. Nevertheless Ström, like most free jazz fans, prefers the punches and stabs of a combat well under way, and that's what this CD is about. Entirely improvised, the music remains firmly anchored in jazz. Pulses, licks, solo space, they all abound following a recipe dating back to Ornette Coleman. After all, Kullhammar is a melodic player (don't worry, he can grunt his way out of a tensed situation). The evening starts with a frenetic workout, the ten-minute "Cold Thrills," an exemplary instant composition. The second number, "Slowdown," begins with an anti-climactic bass solo and remains subdued. The last two numbers are more ambitious in terms of duration (24 and 28 minutes) and dynamics. "Smash-and-Grab" loses some of its impetus halfway through, but "Blow-Out" remains consistent, with Janson's ostinato at 13 minutes and 30 seconds infusing a second life into what could have been a soon-concluding piece. Sound quality is excellent, making this a crisp, vivid live document.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture