Swedish trombonist Eje Thelin and French tenor saxophonist Barney Wilen were two of the top European jazz musicians for several decades before their deaths in the 1990s. They first joined forces briefly in Thelin's quartet in 1963. Based in bop and earlier forms of jazz, Thelin and Wilen were open to freer improvising and music from other countries. In 1966 they joined forces, and two sessions are included on the 1966 With Barney Wilen CD. The first one features a quintet with pianist Lars Sjösten, bassist Erik Lundborg, and drummer Rune Carlsson that is joined by eight brass, bass clarinet, and flute for four inventive Thelin originals. While those performances are excellent, it is the other five numbers (which include second versions of a pair of Thelin's tunes plus "It Could Happen to You" and "Dear Old Stockholm") that are of greatest interest. The playing by the pianoless quartet (comprised of Thelin, Wilen, Carlsson, and bassist Palle Danielsson) is looser and freer with plenty of fireworks occurring in the often intuitive music. This set is easily recommended, particularly to listeners who are not aware that talented Europeans had been playing creative jazz for decades.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow