Bohuslan Big Band with Nils Landgren and Colin Towns ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ (ACT) 3/5

This is the latest collaboration between the Swedish jazz big band and a well-known guest musician. Previously the likes of Avishai Cohen, Bob Mintzer, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler have all participated. The origins of the big band go back as far as the 1950s when it performed as a military band and one that in turn dates back to the early nineteenth century. For this new recording the overriding theme is a tribute to one of America’s greatest composers, Cole Porter, but updated and given the inimitable big band treatment. A heavy modal bass intro to ‘I get a kick out of you’ with light Latin percussion is an album highlight as is the funk-infused ‘What is this thing called love’. Some interpretations verge on the pop side, as with ‘I love Paris’. Of the most interesting pieces, several are the slower numbers such as ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ which receives a sensitive rendition with an extremely catchy keyboard riff and ‘Every time we say goodbye’ which is both mournful and plaintive in character. Trombonist Nils Landgren gets plenty of opportunity to solo throughout and on some songs contributes his own vocals which lie somewhere between a Chet Baker sound-alike and the straighter vocal approach of Kurt Elling.

Tim Stenhouse