Lars Danielsson ‘Libretto’ (ACT) 4/5

Here is one of the year’s most pleasant surprises and a pairing of musical minds that definitely should be repeated. Swedish bassist Lars Danielsson has teamed up with one of the hottest new pianists on the block, Armenian Tigran Hamassayan (whose solo debut for Universal France last year was itself one of the end of 2011 discoveries) as part of a Premier League quality quintet, for an album that conjurs up the folk music side of the Scandinavian and Armenian countryside within a decidely chamber jazz envrionment. The title track in particular is a joy to behold, a piece of great lyrical beauty and an affecting bass solo from Danielsson. On the composition ‘Svensk Låt’ there are parallels with EST (and not only because EST drummer Magnus Ostrom performs throughout the album on drums) and this is an engaging piece featuring the most sensitive of solos from Tigran and a tune that remains long in the memory. Ostrom takes centre stage on the uplifting ‘Orange market’ with an extended solo from Tigran while there is a more austere and sedate ambience on ‘Hymnen’. In particular it is a revelation to hear Tigran in a jazz milieu and even though he has received a classic training, the pianist is ideally suited to jazz. With fine accompaniment from both guitarist John Parricelli and trumpeter Arve Hendriksen, the latter of whom excels on a delicate solo on the piece ‘Day one’, Lars Danielsson has fallen upon a wonderful and totally cohesive line up of musicians. If the quintet remains together for any lengthy period, it will surely produce some enthralling music. This sumptuous offering is, hopefully, the first of more to follow. Tim Stenhouse

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