Parish is a fascinating band initiated by Norwegian drummer Thomas Strønen. Half-Swedish, half-Norwegian, it brings master pianist Bobo Stenson into the orbit of the younger generation of Scandinavian players, with striking results. While being thoroughly contemporary in its sensitivity to sound, “Parish” also implies connections to the intellectually-alert improvised chamber jazz of Paul Bley and Jimmy Giuffre and, by extension, to the roots of music on ECM. Much of the material is improvised in the moment, with free ballads abounding, and graceful and compelling ‘abstract’ playing, of ‘Webernesque’ acuity and transparency. Thomas Strønen also writes elegant themes that steer the players toward the free.
The group was formed in 2001, a debut album, “Rica”, recorded live at the Oslo Jazz Festival that year, was issued by Dutch label Challenge. Since then, however, the unit has found a clearer sense of own identity.
In Parish, Bobo Stenson emphasizes probing, searching single-note lines. The clarinet of Fredrik Ljungkvist has an astringent beauty (see the four Suites for Trio), while his tenor sax tends toward bluesy expressivity (see especially “In Motion”). There is at least a hint of Scott LaFaro in Eilertsen’s approach to the bass, while Strønen’s drums are fleet and resourceful throughout, fanning the sense of spontaneous counterpoint that is one of Parish’s strengths, and giving an easy streamlined flow to the group sound.
Fredrik Ljungkvist -reeds
Bobo Stenson – piano
Mats Eilertsen – bass
Thomas Strønen – drumbs