When a jazz improviser comes out with an album titled Tarantella, one cannot help but wonder if he is offering a fusion of jazz and southern Italian folk (the tarantella, after all, originated in Taranto, a coastal city in southeastern Italy, and became popular all over Campania, Calabria, and Sicily). But Tarantella, despite what its title implies, doesn't have a strong Italian influence; there are no jazz arrangements of traditional Italian folk songs on this self-produced post-bop outing. Nonetheless, Tarantella does have its share of European influences, ranging from Euro-classical chamber music to traditional Scandinavian folk -- and Swedish bassist/cellist Lars Danielsson incorporates all of those influences without being overly abstract or academic. In fact, the songs (most of which Danielsson wrote or co-wrote) are relatively accessible. That is not to say that contemplative, evocative offerings such as "Ballerina," "Melody on Wood," "The Madonna," and "Across the Sun" are simplistic; these songs have a lot of depth, but at the same time, they aren't terribly difficult to absorb -- and Danielsson achieves this healthy balance of intellect and accessibility with a solid team that also includes trumpeter Mathias Eick, pianist Leszek Mozdzer, guitarist John Parricelli, and drummer/percussionist Eric Harland. Emotionally, Danielsson and his colleagues have a lot to say on this 58-minute CD, which was recorded in 2008 in Gothenburg, Sweden (a city that is known for its abundance of death metal bands but has many other types of music as well). Danielsson has often been described as a melodic player, and he lives up that reputation on the excellent Tarantella.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson