Linus Olsson: Wes We Can

In a set of originals with tenor, organ and drums the Swedish guitarist pays convincing tribute to Montgomery, Scofield and other styles


Considering that Swedish guitarist Linus Olsson first performed with the other musicians on this album twice at concerts in Paris just three years ago, the results sound as though they’ve been together for much longer. Then again, it may be not a little to do with Olsson the composer, who supplies all its distinctive charts.

Olsson’s tunes seem designed to go places, to be capable of inspired journeying, and not just vehicles for the familiarities of ensemble and solos. There’s plenty of that, and it’s of such good quality that the appearances of tenor saxophonist Stéphane Guillaume and organist Damien Argentieri are much to be welcomed.

Far from being an over-arching presence likely to belly-flop on proceedings at any minute, organist Argentieri supplies the rich textural infilling, but not too rich, that always makes a small group with Hammond sound less formidable than it looks on paper.

Drummer Antoine Paganotti does such good work churning the mix that it’s six tracks in – Austerology – before he’s rewarded with a trading episode involving the others. It’s not intended to acknowledge that he’s there, because his presence throughout is conspicuous.

Olsson pays homage to Wes Montgomery in the title track and includes a chart, Johnny B Sco, that he wrote for John Scofield. His style is cool and astringent, a considerable reduction of the rock approach with which he was once enamoured and ideally suited to his compositions. They also include Latin American influences on In A Mellow Time and Around The Block, the first of which has Guillaume on flute duetting with guitar accompaniment before the others join in.

Wes We Can; Johnny B Sco; Train Dance; In A Mellow Time: Around The Block; Austerology; Kabalevski; At The End Of The Day; Johnny B Sco – Radio Edit (49.33)
Olsson (g); Stéphane Guillaume (ts, f); Damien Argentieri (org); Antoine Paganotti (d). Videlles, France, 27-28 October 2020.
Fresh Sound Records FSR CD5119