Contra La Indecisión is the third album by the Bobo Stenson Trio in its current form: Bobo Stenson (piano), Anders Jormin (double bass) and Jon Falt (drums). They have been playing together for a decade now and it shows in the comfortable familiarity they have with each other. There is a competence and assured calmness that shows through, each comfortable to push inventiveness, knowing exactly where the other players are. This album exhibits works from a mixture of sources, adaptations of pieces by classical and folk influences as well as pieces written by the trio members.
Canción Contra La Indecisión by Cuban folk singer Silvio Rodríguez translates well into a jazz trio number; piano carries the strong melody and is tightly supported by bass and drums; has the feel of a love song.
Doubt Thou The Stars, written by the trio’s bassist Anders Jormin, is a more explorative piece, moving through a number of stages each with a distinctive arrangement but somehow disconnected.
Wedding Song From Poniky is a reworking of Béla Bartók’s Hungarian folk song; a quiet piece that is well served by the strong introspective melody.
Three Shades Of A House (Jormin) features an extended bass solo as introduction. Another explorative piece meandering through a number of stages but not quite resolving.
This adaptation of Erik Satie’s Élégie (for piano and voice) into a piece for jazz trio is a complete transformation and works really well; swaying lively with a delicate melody shared between piano and bass. I think this is my favourite piece but there are serious challengers.
Canción Y Danza VI by Federico Mompou also translates well as a jazz piece. Slower and more thoughtful, it contrasts well with the previous piece.
Alice (Stenson) is quite abstract, almost arrhythmic and with no discernable melody, it creates quite an edgy atmosphere.
In contrast, Oktoberhavet “October Sea” (Jormin) is nicely rhythmic; bowed bass lays a plaintive melody over simple piano progression –a seriously beautiful piece with melodic interplay between piano and bass!
In Kalimba Impressions (Falt, Jormin, Stenson), Stenson plays broken chords over which Jormin plucks the melody while Falt reflects the piano part on kalimba. The whole sound integrates nicely and introduces a sense of tension – another exciting piece!
In Stilla (Jormin), Jormin opens with a simple sequence of chords on bass to which Stenson adds jagged chords. While the music improvises, it returns regularly to this chordal refrain.
After some timpanic introduction, Hemingway Intonations (Jormin) develops into a thoughtful measured piece.
Contra La Indecisión is something of a mixed bag. The sound is sometimes fully engaged, sometimes quite stark, but always emotive. Some pieces were a little too unstructured and arrhythmic for my taste, while others were completely fluid and melodic. There is certainly a classical feel to many of the pieces and I was reminded of a recent review of B-A-C-H - a similar line-up and reworking of classical pieces; if you like one, I recommend a listen to the other. There are a few favourite tracks that have a more contemporary feel (Oktoberhavet, Kalimba Impressions, Stilla) that have a completely different appeal. I would like to hear more of these!