Jazz CD Reviews

Pierre Swärd Organ Jazz ‘N Soul Group – Slow But Fast – Prophone

A Swedish jazz organist with some schnapps.

Published on June 18, 2013

Pierre Swärd Organ Jazz ‘N Soul Group – Slow But Fast – Prophone

Pierre Swärd Organ Jazz ‘N Soul Group – Slow But Fast – Prophone Records PCD 140, 57:31 [Distr. By Naxos] ***½:

(Pierre Swärd – organ, vocals; Jan Ottesen – guitar; Joakim Ekberg – drums)

Swedish jazz organists are about as common as snow in Florida. So when one comes along with a Franco-Swedish name like Pierre Swärd it may be worthwhile paying attention. Leading his band called Organ Jazz ‘n Soul Group, he delivers a worthwhile outing entitled Slow But Fast.

With a few exceptions, this session is mostly Swärd originals that cover the melodic gamut, but many fall into the jazz-funk category. Swärd is an organist of adeptness and stylishness who mostly stays away from clichés. Guitarist Jan Ottesen demonstrates a rich technique and there is an attentive bond with the leader. While not all the tracks are memorable and. as with many organists, there is sometimes a tendency to fall into some screeching, for the most part this session works quite well.

Kenny Barron’s “South Street Stroll” sets the funky tone with Swärd delivering staccato chords coupled to guitarist Ottesen running some single note riffs, all supported by drummer Ekberg’s punchy backing. Swärd finds a nice swinging groove with his original “Chicago Swing” which has a catchy opening line and then the band does a smart take on the theme. One of John Coltrane’s lesser known tunes “Mr. Syms” is given an extended reading by the band in a bluesy vein which allows each member to take advantage of the musical framework with convincing intricacy.

Further along the Hoagy Carmichael standard “Georgia On My Mind” is taken at a languid tempo with probably too many held notes and the theme stated in the upper register to make it really effective. After this, the balance of the album is devoted to Swärd originals with mixed results. The best of the lot is the title tune “Slow But Fast” which is done in a blues-influenced vein with guitarist Ottesen taking the lead on the solo space with some perceptive improvisations.  While this organ trio mines familiar ground, it does so with intelligence and proficiency.

TrackList: South Street Stroll; Chicago Swing; Mr.  Syms; Kool And The Gang; A Waltz In The Park; Georgia On My Mind; Frankfurt Funk; Walk With Me; Slow But Fast; Struttin’

—Pierre Giroux

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