Flowers For Johnny (Spa)


aec.imt931115.2 4/5/11 New

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    Flowers For Johnny (Spa)

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Review Text Following his exile from South Africa, Johnny Dyani spent a few years in London and then Paris before finally settling down in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Swedish and Danish jazz scenes being strongly interconnected (then and now), he eventually met the alto sax player Anders Gahnold, who actually chased him down and invited him to join his trio. Completed by drummer Gilbert Matthews, the trio performed irregularly during the bassist's last years, but it seems it never recorded a studio session. Flowers for Johnny culls two live sets recorded by the Swedish Broadcasting Company on October 15, 1983 (at the Umeå Jazz Festival) and on September 12, 1985 (at the Jazz Club Fasching in Stockholm). Both are good-quality recordings with some light wear and tear of the master tapes showing. The 1983 set, over one hour long, is dominated by the 17-minute opener, "Sound Check," a powerful piece that showcases Gahnold's writing skills as much as his soulful left-field playing. Still very bop in essence, the music is fueled by the energy of American fire music. Honest-sounding, it eschews power for power's sake and even doesn't shy away from a touch of romanticism in "Waltz for Kai-Ola," a highlight. Disc two is much shorter (33 minutes). At its heart stands a gripping rendition of "Summertime." If the saxophonist remains a bit too respectful of the standard, Dyani stretches out a set of solo variations that revamp it in a way reminiscent of how John Coltrane rewrote "My Favorite Things." "Jagad" and "Duett," bookending this second recording, are both livelier and freer tunes featuring some exciting interplay between bass and drums. Gahnold is an underdocumented sax player, but you'll probably want Flowers for Johnny for Dyani's work (and he's not the most recorded bassist in jazz history). ~ François Couture

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