Four years after “Cantando”, a new album from the Bobo Stenson Trio – recorded in Lugano last December – explores a broad arc of material. Here we find: free playing (the trio has its own, fresh approach to collective improvising), tunes by Bill Evans (“Your Story”, offered here as a tribute to Paul Motian, for whom this tune was a favourite) and by George Russell (“Event VI” from “Living Time”, another piece associated with Evans), Danish composer Carl Nielsen’s “Oft Am I Glad”, a Norwegian hymn (in an arrangement by Anders Jormin and folk singer Sinikka Langeland), contemporary composition by Norway’s Ola Gjeilo, a Wolf Biermann protest song, Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez’s folkloric “La Peregrinación”, and more. Wide-ranging repertoire has become a hallmark of Bobo Stenson recordings. But it’s not just the eclecticism that is striking.
A pianist who has always given more attention to the shape of a melody than to the condition of his outward career, musicians' musician Bobo Stenson is suddenly ubiquitous. War Orphans finds Stenson, Anders Jormin and Jon Christensen in peak form as they rove freely through an intriguing repertoire that includes two Ornette Coleman tunes, Ellington's "Melancholia", a beautiful Cuban love song by Silvio Rodriguez, and original material by bassist Jormin and the leader.