Ulf Wakenius Solo ‘Momento Magico’ (ACT) 4/5

Ulf-Wakenius-SoloSwedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius has performed with some of the jazz greats and these include Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny and Oscar Peterson to name but a few. On this new solo project the sound has a definite ECM feel to it with acoustic guitar only in use here and parallels with the virtuosity of say Egberto Gismonti are in order. In truth this is as much a world roots release as it is a jazz one and this is illustrated throughout with raga influences for example discernible on ‘Hindustan Blues’ while the Chinese pipa instrument is alluded to on ‘The Dragon’ which is somewhat Metheny-esque in style and yet thankfully avoids the pitfalls of an essentially orientalist approach. A language that was once thought in the 1920s and 1930s would become the lingua franca of global communication, Esperanto, is also the title of a piece that has both Greek and Middle Eastern influences to it. Indeed multiple musical influences are on in evidence on the album with Keith Jarrett, Wes Montgomery, Oscar Paterson and Sixto Rodriguez all receiving homages of one form or another. An interesting selection of standards features an inventive reworking of Satie’s ‘Gnossienne’, a faithful rendition of Charles Trenet’s evergreen ‘La Mer’ and a fine take on Sixto Rodriguez’s superb film soundtrack score ‘Sugar Man’ while the tributes to Jarrett with ‘Preludio’ and ‘Wes’ [Montgomery] are adept at immediately conjuring up the original musicians. For even greater variety, look no further than the reposing quasi-classical ambiance of ‘Ballad for E’, written by EST member Magnus Öström. A musician who displays an inventive musical mind and is keen to explore roots music in its myriad styles. Tim Stenhouse