Sharing their name with a popular shopping mall in suburban Stockholm, Nacka Forum have been practising a slightly madcap brand of free jazz for more than 20 years now. All four musicians are probably better known for other projects – Kajfes records for ACT with Oddjob, Kulhammar leads his prolific quartet and was recently heard with Petter Eldh’s Kamo Saxo, Berthling is a member of the Fire! Trio and Orchestra, while Osgood must be one of the only living musicians to have recorded with Yusef Lateef, Lonnie Smith and Sam Rivers.
Despite their longevity, this is only the group’s sixth release since their eponymous 2002 debut, and the guiding influences of Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago can still be heard in their mature style. Så Stopper Festen, which translates as “so ends the party”, may seem like an odd title for a 20th anniversary bash, but it is very much in keeping with Nacka Forum’s playful and no-nonsense approach.
It gets straight down to business with One, Two, Three O’Clock. Its solid opening vamp could be interpreted as an invitation to rock around the clock, but an Ornettish bridge quickly heralds a change of pace as the piece opens out into a thrilling free-bop chase. Raboleira takes another pronounced nod to Coleman, a powerful and keening dirge which finds an emotive Kulhammar switching to alto. Tigray mines a heavy four-square groove, Kulhammar’s dark tenor wailing in a Traneish mode as the group cycle through a crazy range of dynamics with effortless ease, while Big L introduces Kajfes’ vintage mellophone taking us on an exotic journey beyond Saturn’s rings.
By now we shouldn’t be surprised that Epilog appears at the album’s mid-point. A none too subtle subversion of programmatic norms, it is nevertheless a brilliantly moody free ballad. The striking Gonglåt Från Orminge is built on a throbbing bass drone and again takes us into Ra’s orbit, while OhSoGood allows the drummer to stretch out and have some fun on a hard-driving free-bop romp. Whether the uplifting and quasi-anthemic Haltefanden is a more fitting finale than Epilog is largely immaterial – Nacka Forum always do things their own way, and long may that continue!
One, Two, Three O’Clock; Raboleira; Tigray; Big L; Epilog; Gonglåt Från Orminge; OhSoGood; Haltefanden (40.00)
Goran Kajfes (t, mellophone); Jonas Kulhammar (ts, as, bassoon); Johan Berthling (b); Kresten Osgood (d, vib, org). Unknown date, Stockholm.
Moserobie Music MMPCD121