Rymden ‘Reflections and Odysseys’ 2LP/CD (Jazzland Recordings) 5/5

Scando Piano Jazz is good for me. I know this. I know this from personal experience. It fills me with liberal, pragmatic thoughts; allows me to cooly reflect on my life; and increases my IQ by at least 10 points. While listening to it I’ll pour myself a deep white burgundy (no premox, natch) or a robust coffee in my favourite Rörstrand cup (with a Semla, natch) and open books of great intellect that I might otherwise stutter at. It is music of its place, reminding me of personal Scandinavian experiences e.g. being on a ferry in Stockholm with my wife ‘debating’ whether we should go to the Abba Museum or visit the Moki Cherry exhibition at the Moderna Museet (fyi – we, after a calm, reasoned discussion, agreed to do both, natch).

So my experience says that an album recorded by 3 Scando Jazz superstars will be serious, cerebral, reflective and have that seductively tempered, boldly melancholic, passion. Rymden’s brace of jazz superstars are Bugge Wesseltoft (piano, keyboards) and the e.s.t. rhythm powerhouse’s Dan Berglund (bass) and Magnus Öström (drums); hence exceptional musicianship and well-earnt Scandinavian jazz insight, and expression, is assured.

So…errr…what’s this?! Way to go “The Odyssey” for immediately slapping my positive prejudices down; no reflective, cerebral here. It’s part guitar-less heavy metal of my youth (see Savatage) and part jazz prog. Dramatic and impactful, it’s all about quiet relief and then building and seering. Ferocious and beautiful; certainly no suggestion I should open the chilled Mersault just yet.

“Pitter-Patter” doesn’t get me brewing the coffee either; it’s a fiercely groovy Rhodes driven jazz fusion piece. Absolutely nailed down. Rymden got rhythm.

Now, “The Lugubrious Youth Of Lucky Luke” is much more like it! A bit of lugubrious is good for the soul; and add to that some languorous, via Wesseltoft’s gentle piano melody and Berglund’s forlorn/contemplative acoustic bass, and you’ve got a glorious habit-forming heartache. “The Celestial Dog And The Funeral Ship” continues this mood as Berglund’s bow and Wesseltoft’s heat slowly lead an ascension to inevitable emotive critical mass.

“Bergen” is a rollicking, upbeat traveller that is soon intimidated from memory by the dread and darkness of “Råk”; more piano jazz metal, and fusion in bursts, with Berglund and Öström bringing the powerful doom while Wesseltoft’s Rhodes attempts to escape. And escape they do, to “Homegrown” a touchingly reflective piece that in a single poignant contemplation sums up why I know that this music is good for me.

I love this album very much. I’m surprised just how much. The musician(kin)ship is unequaled; like a jazz Olivia Coleman, they have an ability to make us believe everything they say and feel; in the nuanced detail, the powerful expression and in the space.

The longevity of Rymden is now on my personal list of great hopes for the future. If realised it will be exceptionally good for me.

Ian Ward