Proklamation I/Farewell to Sweden

Per Henrik Wallin

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Proklamation I/Farewell to Sweden Review

by Steve Loewy

In his enthusiastic liner notes, journalist Peter Niklas Wilson calls unsung Swedish pianist Per Henrik Wallin "one of the great jazz pianists of our time." Perhaps he is, and this telling double-disc release should enhance his reputation considerably. The first CD features the pianist in duo with drummer Sven-Åke Johansson in a set of ten improvisations, each called a "Proklamation," while Wallin leads a trio on the second one in which the focus is on classics from the bop repertory (such as Sonny Clark's "Voodoo" and Freddie Redd's "Farewell to Sweden"), sprinkled with originals by Wallin. At heart, the pianist is an angular, somewhat quirky performer, influenced heavily by Thelonious Monk, with a foot firmly planted in post-Monk harmonies and rhythms. What makes Wallin so compelling, though, is his grasp of music reaching back decades, so that he may, for example, suddenly interrupt an abstract excursion with a touch of swing or stride, after which he immediately returns to what he was originally doing. The results are appealingly humorous, rather than jarring, as Wallin is never less than tasteful. Johansson's off-center drums keep the pianist off-guard, never letting him lull into a preconceived groove. These splendid discs should rightfully attract some attention for Wallin, a long-neglected mini-giant of the keyboard.

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