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Abash is a piano-less trio from Sweden featuring Anders Ekholm on saxophones, Tommy Skotte on bass, and Nils Danell on drums. This live date is their second for the Dragon label, and far more relaxed than their first. Abash is a trio in the same sense that the Sonny Rollins Trio was at The Village Vanguard. They left a piano out of the band to place more creative control in the hands of the rhythm section and also improvisational freedom in the hands of Ekholm. They are traditionalists rather than free jazzers and spend a large portion of the gig on their own material, which is heavy on mid-tempo blues tunes and hard bop numbers, albeit with a European sensibility. Thankfully Ekholm doesn't sound like Rollins, but he does echo everyone from Jackie McLean when he plays alto to Sonny Stitt. On tenor it's Getz and Ben Webster. The band's own material is competent, swinging Euro-jazz, but it doesn't stand out in any way except that they play together as a band very well. The soloing is journeyman at best and the compositions themselves reveal little in the way of creative sensibility. When they close their set with Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," it sounds incomplete; their harmonic and dynamic execution screams for the inclusion of other players to fill out the changes and counterpoint swing in the Duke's text. There's nothing wrong with Abash's jazz; there just isn't anything truly compelling in it either.

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