Any listener familiar with Bobo Stenson's work knows that extensive range is a trademark on his records. Indicum is no exception. With longtime bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Jon Fält, he takes on works by Bill Evans, George Russell, contemporary sacred composition, free group improv, traditional hymns, and jazz reads of Carl Nielsen on this 12-track set. Stenson opens with a brief solo reading of Evans' "Your Story," dedicated to the late Paul Motian, who had held the drum chair on the Trio's 2005 album, Goodbye. It's elegant, emotive, and bears the hallmarks of Stenson's sparse yet striking chords. "Indikon," the first of three group improvs, commences with Fält's solo. The pianist enters with an abundant lyricism, weighted by Jormin's slow, studied pulse. As the players engage and trade the foreground, an organic process emerges and begins its evolution. On "Indigo," dark minor keys emerge from the tune's body to create dramatic tension. Jormin's low end adds a force to Stenson's argument, but Fält's shimmering cymbals and flat snare counter it all, creating balance. The set includes version of Wolf Bierman's protest song "Ermutigung," which shimmers even as it swings; its melancholy overtones embraced and articulated fully in Jormin's song-like solo. The inclusion of Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez's "La Peregrinacion" illustrates how subtle, even hidden aspects of rhythmic interplay are evoked inside this group's lyric improvisation. The other end of the folk spectrum is highlighted in the Norwegian traditional "Ave Maria." The sacred melody is pronounced, then shifted to find the margin. In its place, a haunting improvisation/dialogue illustrates the many harmonic possibilities in its formal architecture. Jormin's "Sol" is a fine vehicle for him and Fält. Stenson doesn't enter until two minutes into the conversation. When he does, it's via a series of carefully spaced triads that frame Jormin's arco. Before the tune gels, it hints at post-bop without indulging it, yet its graceful sense of swing is implicit. Album-closer "Ubi Caritas" is a choral piece by contemporary composer Ola Gjeilo. In intent, it walks a line between modern and medieval music. But Stenson uses its structural evocation of plain chant in his chords and allows Jormin a soprano-like quality with his bow. Fält skeletally and spaciously accents it all, keeping the tune's mysterious quality intact. The Stenson Trio is the rarest of bands, one that approaches its material as a series of queries to be summarily explored, rather than statements to be made. As such, Indicum succeeds in spades.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek