Swedish saxophonist Orjan Hulten shows his love for American hard bop, post-bop, and neo-bop in this set of original compositions that displays signposts of his influences. A piano-less trio suggests Sonny Rollins, the sound coming from his tenor or soprano saxophone bears lineage to John Coltrane, and the overall modern style puts him in the ballpark with Michael Brecker or Joe Lovano. While not woodsy or reflective of nature as the title might suggest, Hulten does somewhat borrow, whether accidental or intentional, from vintage oaks and long living standards. The calm waltz "Restless" is quite reminiscent of "Don't Explain," "It's Ugly Here, I Like It!" melds a calypso beat onto a theme similar to "It's Only a Paper Moon," while the angular melody and 4/4 beat of "Lick the Ground" combines the wittiness of Thelonious Monk with the soul-jazz of a Stanley Turrentine tune. Coltrane is omnipresent on the hard bopper "Hellsning," and he switches back and forth from tenor to soprano for the start-stop bop of "Diggin' the Birds." At times bluesy, digging deep into the melancholia of life, and rarely overblown, Hulten displays a taste and level of sophistication that are readily accessible. Bassist Filip Augustson rides along with solid musicianship, and drummer Fredrik Rundqvist must be lauded for the zest and precision he brings to the date. Hulten is one to keep track of, as he also has his fingers in the world music pie. He's a solid soloist, theoretician, and tactician in the contemporary European jazz scene, with more to come.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos