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Surge — For the Time Being
(LJ Records LJCD 5213, 1996, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 1998-07-01

For the Time Being Cover art

Why is European mainland jazz ignored or worse yet, simply prejudiced as being lesser than US contemporaries? And does jazz have to be black to be good? These questions have been asked by reviewers since whitey decided to play like Charlie Parker. In Sweden, at least for the group Surge, the core of improvisation has been embraced with stark empathy stemming from a winter cultural environment. You'd be moody too if you didn't see sun for almost three months of the year, so why not instead play impressionistic jazz? The group is a Swedish ECM (former home to Pat Metheny, Oregon and Eberhard Weber among others) type trio consisting of drums, keyboards and trumpet. Horn player Staffan Svenson's main contribution is "Ode," the standout track utilizing film music of a Gypsy song sung by children as an intro into an aggressive late period Miles Davis. I can also detect influences of Isham and Hassell's world music explorations in Svenson's attack and interjections. The other two primary pieces on the disc are "Perpetual Motion" (the only live track) and "Oracular Influx" which together take up half the disc. "Perpetual Motion" is drummer Per Ekblad's song beginning from drum solo and transitioning into a pastel weary backdrop. "Oracular Influx" is part successful group improv (with Bo Wirkland's synth stabs chopping up the tempo) starting from a lonely overblown trumpet solo. So my answers to the initial questions are: "I don't know" and "no" respectively; but this large trio stirs up an endearing temperament for late evenings of introspection and debate.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 15, 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Surge

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