Elsa Bergman: Playon Crayon

Improvisations on the painting of the bassist leader reach points of confluence that suggest art can be in the eye of several beholders


The quintet improvisations here were inspired by a series of water-colour and crayon paintings done by the leader, the Stockholm-based bassist Bergman. A booklet with the LP associates each of the eight selections with a full-page painting.

The musicians improvised their lines directly by studying the pictures, and on the surface it seems as if each player goes in his or her own direction with scant regard for what anybody else is doing. Susana Santos Silver plays harsh, staccato trumpet lines as Katt Hernandez on violin and David Stackenäs on guitar scratch away on their stringed instruments and drummer Matilda Rolfsson plays what sounds like a series of rim shots on various percussion instruments.

However, if that superficially seems to confirm the proposition that art is all about personal interpretation, it’s notable that often – e.g., on Rosmarie – the musicians’ perceptions concur to produce something that sounds coherent enough to have been composed. Also on Rosmarie, Stackenäs has a strong, melodic guitar solo with good rhythmic counterpoint from bass and drums.

Bergman has quite a few detectable melodic lines. She often plays an ostinato against what the others are doing and occasionally plays something approaching conventional time.

Although there is little in the way of conventional melody or form on this project – sponsored by the Swedish Art Council – the music does take on its own momentum in terms of rhythm and motif. However, these moments of concord are likely to be palatable in the main to hard-core free-jazz enthusiasts.

Kaleidoscope I; Rosmarie; Heartbeats; Maths; The Sea; Phone Cords; Inspired By Steve Adams; Kaleidoscope II (39.43)
Susana Santos Silva (t); Katt Hernandez (vn); David Stackenäs (elg); Bergman (b); Matilda Rolfsson (d). Stockholm, 22 August 2021.
Bergman Inspelningar 005