The Italian virtuoso, pianist Stefano Bollani, began his collaboration with two Danish musicians after the 2003 Jazzpar concerts, at which they accompanied the great Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava. One day of rehearsal, two concerts, and five hours in a recording studio resulted in their first CD, Mi Ritorni In Mente, which became a jazz hit in Italy as well as in Denmark. Following Danish and Italian tours, it became clear that this constellation was destined to be of a more permanent nature. You need not be a musician to understand what bassist Jesper Bodilsen means when he says, “The fascinating thing about playing with Stefano is his brilliant musicality. You never know what’s going to happen; all you know is that it is so very inspiring. His playing combines playfulness and humor with something very deep.”
This is probably in part due to the fact that Bollani has always expressed himself in a wide range of idioms. Although classically trained, he has played jazz and pop since childhood, and even once contemplated a vocalist career. The diversity and unbiased outlook are two traits he shares with bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund. After ten years of collaboration on numerous projects, these two musicians are possibly the tightest bass/drum team of their generation on the Danish jazz scene.
The trio’s first album was dominated by Italian tunes and standard type material. However, the concluding tune, a Swedish folk song called Liten Karin, pointed in new directions. This tune became the beacon that showed the way toward this new collection. Stefano Bollani wanted to play more Scandinavian tunes – but on one condition: he would not listen to recorded versions of the music, so as not to feel influenced. Jesper Bodilsen did the necessary research.
Probably few, if any, of the nine tunes are known outside of Scandinavia. Although there is a span of 100 years between the newest and oldest of them, and though it is true that one should be careful about elevating songs to evergreen status, still the material here contains much of whatever it is that evergreens are made of. We are treated to brilliant new interpretations of Den Allersidste Dans (The Very Last Dance) from the 1951 movie Mød Mig På Cassiopeia (Meet Me On Cassiopeia), a small stroke of genius by Kai Normann Andersen, also the composer of Glemmer Du (If You Forget), and once again, one wonders why so few Danish jazz musicians use his music. “The saddest song I ever heard”, says Bodilsen of Moder Jeg Er Træt, Nu Vil Jeg Sove (Mother I Am Tired, Now I Want To Go To Sleep) –one of Fini Henriques’ less cheerful tunes, written to the poem Det Døende Barn (The Dying Child) by Hans Christian Andersen. The CD also features the title track, Gleda, by Norwegian Bjørn Eidsvåg, and tunes by Lisa Nilsson, Katrine Madsen, Thomas Laub and others.
On GLEDA the trio finds a melodic and original tone in a music concentrated around Scandinavian material. They have succeeded in creating a beautiful, refreshing and modern sound in a wonderfully well-defined recording. Hearing one of Europe’s great pianists interpret these tunes is pure pleasure. Although rounded of another musical culture, his open-minded lack of bias, and that of his Danish companions, create lovely, surprising new facets and – miracles!
Stefano Bollani (p), Jesper Bodilsen (b), Morten Lund (d)
Aldrig Som Aldrig/ Den Allersidste Dans/ Moder, Jeg Er Træt, Nu Vil Jeg Sove/ Armband/
Dansen og Valsen/ Morgenlys Over København/ Kimer I Klokker/ Glemmer Du/ Gleda