Lars Erstrand, vibes – “Swingcerely Yours” – Opus 3

by | May 6, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Lars Erstrand, vibes – “Swingcerely Yours” – Opus 3 multichannel SACD CD22081, 60:18 **** [May 6, 08]:(with Bob Barnard, cornet; Danny Moss, tenor sax; Jan Lundgren, piano; Kuell Ohman, piano/B-3; Knud Jorgensen piano; Rolf Larsson, piano; Ove Lind, clarinet; Bertil Fernqvist, guitar; Roy Williams, trombone)

One of the world’s best-known jazz vibists is now 72-year-old Lars Erstrand, whose style is rooted in the Swing Era and whose general approach to the instrument is close to that of the great Lionel Hampton.  Erstrand has had a close association since the 1960s with fellow Swedish clarinetist Ove Lind, who plays in a Benny Goodman style.  Erstrand himself played with Goodman in the past and recorded an album in l991 together with Lionel Hampton.  Current clarinetist Ken Peplowski and guitarist Frank Vignolia have had close contact with Erstrand, who is still active with his quartet.

Back in 1976 Erstrand was approached by young recordist Jan-Eric Persson to make a test recording with some new equipment. Later Jan-Eric formed the Opus 3 label and has been recording Erstrand ever since.  This SACD is a compendium of selected tracks from five of his past Opus 3 CDs and LPs.  Since they were all recorded two-channel with a Blumlein point-source stereo mike setup, the ambient information for the surround channels is readily available to be derived from the difference signal, and Opus 3 has issued a number of SACDs from their past library using this approach. They are 4.1, without a center channel, but with the bass frequencies below 60Hz routed to the LFE or sixth channel.  The effect is quite good, though I find I usually want to raise the level slightly on the surround channels for such multichannel sources.

The disc’s first two sets of excerpts are from 1983 and ‘84 albums. The duo of Erstrand and guitarist Bertil Fernqvist turn in an absolutely lovely interpretation of the slow movement of the Concerto D’Aranjuez, running five-and-a-half minutes.  The three tracks from the album “Lars Erstrand and Four Brothers” reveals that  the group’s makeup is not four saxes but a quartet of tenor sax, piano, bass and drums in addition to Erstrand’s vibes – which really sing on Body and Soul.  The next album comes from 1986 and it’s a tribute to the Benny Goodman Quartet, with three tunes closely identified with Benny, starting with a swinging Stompin’ at the Savoy.  This is a quartet with Lind on clarinet of course. “Dream Dancing” is the next album, and two of the four tracks from this one feature Kjell Ohman on the B-3 – the LFE channel gets some action therein – in fact the last track is titled One for the Woofer!  The last three tracks of the sampler come from sessions recorded in l994 and ‘95 for “The Lars Erstrand Sessions.”   The closing Small Fry, with Bob Barnard on cornet, will put a smile on your face.

1. Gladys
2. Concerto D’Anranjuez
3. Reunion Blues
4. Too Good to Be True
5. Body and Soul
6. The Rabbit Jumps
7. Stompin’ At the Savoy
8. I Must Have That Man
9. Avalon
10. East of the Sun
11. Sweet Georgia Brown
12. Old Folks
13. One for the Woofer
14. Don’t Take Your Love From Me
15. It’s the Talk of the Town
16. Small Fry

– John Henry

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