Tony Malaby/ Per-Oscar Nilsson / Johnny Aman / Peter Nilsson: 9 Stygn (2012)
The sophomore release of Swedish guitarist Per-Oscar Nilsson strengthens his ties with American jazz. His debut, Now! (Connective, 2010), with his own group, featured saxophonist Marcus Strickland. 9 Stygn, recorded a year later, features Nilsson as the main composer for a quartet comprised of saxophonist Tony Malaby and fellow Malmö bassist Johnny Åman, who collaborated with Nilsson on his debut, and experienced drummer Peter Nilsson.
Per-Oscar Nilsson's compositions are structured with clear melodic lines, careful, linear progressions deeply rooted in the jazz guitar tradition, yet still offer enough room for other musicians to comment and articulate. A few of his compositions pay tribute to the influential legacy of ECM, especially pianist Keith Jarrett's Scandinavian quartet with saxophonist Jan Garbarek, as on the playful "Läppen," that follows the same dynamics as the legendary quartet's live releases. Nilsson's lyrical guitar tone and subtle attack bring to mind another ECM artist, guitarist John Abercrombie, admired for his musicality and harmonic sophistication. Like Abercrombie, Nilsson prefers to let his musical ideas mature organically, best featured on his extended solos on "Beneath the Concrete Cap," or on the cover of trumpeter Miles Davis' untimely "Circle."
Malaby opts for a reserved role as a sideman and wisely stimulates Nilsson's articulations; the two trade emphatic solos, but don't attempt to challenge the melodic envelope or the harmonic boundaries. Only on the brief, open-ended improvisations, does Malby takes the lead, enforcing tougher interplay and undermining Nilsson's melodic approach. Åman and Peter Nilsson add a driving rhythmic base, as on "The Green One," but more often, as on the airy title tune or "Now," gently color the melodic theme.
9 Stygn clocks in at more than 78 minutes. A shorter and tighter selection of originals, balanced with more improvised pieces, would have benefited this release. Still, Per-Oscar Nilsson is a voice with which to reckon.
Track Listing: Blue Tirana; Läppen; Impro II; 9 Stygn; Refectorium; The Green One; Impro III; Now; Beneath the Concrete Cap; loose Fit; Circle; Impro I .
Personnel: Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone; Per-Oscar Nilsson: guitar; Johnny Åman: bass; Peter Nilsson: drums.
Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent