Bobo Stenson Trio: War Orphans (ECM 1604)


Bobo Stenson Trio
War Orphans

Bobo Stenson piano
Anders Jormin double-bass
Jon Christensen drums
Recorded May 1997 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Following a memorable return on 1996’s Reflections, the Bobo Stenson Trio strengthened its resolve with the release of War Orphans. Like the Ornette Coleman tune that gives the album its title, the flow borne out on these proceedings is attentive and sincere. The footfall of the same, tender as if not wanting to wake a sleeping child, lends this and its surroundings a natural feel. Yet it is “Oleo de mujer con sombrero” by Cuban folk singer and nueva trova pioneer Silvio Rodriguez that prefaces. A tender intro from Stenson leads us into the album cover’s barren vista, a place where memories and souls intermingle like characters in a Theo Angelopoulos film. Anders Jormin grows from the piano like a melodic appendage into the waters of his own “Natt.” The first of three tunes by the bassist, its current rolls stones into smooth jewels, while “Eleventh Of January” and “Sediment” bring synergy and whimsy in turn. Captivating solos in both cast him as the hub of this emotional wheel. Coleman resurfaces in “All My Life,” to which drummer Jon Christensen adds his skipping crosscurrents, setting off another star turn from Jormin, whose fingers dance their fretless way into the heart of Stenson’s lone original, “Bengali Blue.” This smooth joint crashes against the rhythm section’s shore before a surprisingly buoyant version of Duke Ellington’s “Melancholia” woos us into the piano’s final words, receding like a sun dipping its ladle into steaming ocean.

War Orphans has a feeling of clockwork, intimate gears set by key to turn and melodize. It is a salve to our innermost wounds. Like ripples in a pond from three stones, these minds naturally find ways to commingle.

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