Christer Bothén 3 "Omen" LP
I associate Christer Bothén with a Maestro. I look upon him as a Maestro. A true MAESTRO. Of music. Of Life. A Maestro needs pupils. And pupils need a Maestro. To be given perspectives on Music and Life. It works both ways. It is a sharing of ideas and previous experiences. In order to make music NOW and onwards. In order to live. This is old school. And this is the way it works. And HAS to work. The true mechanics of artistic work and a creative way of living. We learn from other people. From their experiences. We learn from mistakes. The ones we make ourselves. And others. Music, experience and life travels through generations. It never stops. It shall never stop. And it WILL never stop. Christer was (literally) travelling a lot back in the days. Living in Morocco and in Mali. Playing music. Sharing it all. Learning from his Masters. Figuring it all out. During our lifetime - In music and life - we only have a few Maestros, who we draw a lot from. Inspirations and knowledge. The ones we have – the ones who choose us – mean all to us. We trust them on all levels possible. And we learn. We move on. We learn HOW to move on. Christer has been a true Maestro for me. The things he says, shares and what he plays. I was lucky to be part of his Christer Bothén Acoustic Ensemble in the 90s. And now we share the stage in numerous situations: in duo, in small groups, with Fire! Orchestra and in projects devoted to the music of Don Cherry (of whom Christer was a teacher back in the day!). We share it. The music. The life. And we learn. In a never-ending process. I was asked to lend an ear to the music of Christer Bothén in this present trio formation. F**K!!!! This is IT! The sum of all the years of experience, travelling and sharing coming together in an amazing explosion of poetic beauty! Right NOW. I have played many of these songs myself, with Christer and in my own groups. The compositions are KILLER! I love them. They open up the possibilities for a/the road to follow. Fundamental poetry. The CB Trio is nailing it all. The ultimate takes of the songs. In just a trio setting, with loads of air and space present. This makes the compositional work even more brilliant and obvious. Christer has worked a lot with larger ensembles of his, in the past, resulting in an extreme multilayered and complex music. To hear this music in a trio setting is a revelation to me. It is so clear. So sharp. Full of details and a gushing flow of energy. Full of life. Bromander and Agnas are executing an interplay here, that is sensational. I will not review what I hear, I leave that up to the listener. (It should be pretty obvious that I value this album extremely high. This piece of vinyl IS spectacular!!!) This shit is d.a.n.g.e.r.o.u.s! And just plain beaty… I´m amazed how the low-end instruments actually travel so well together. Never in the way of each other´s frequencies. We talk about extreme-sub-bass-actions here: when the contrabass- clarinet is interacting with the beautifully bowed low- end of the double bass… I stop breathing. But, the absolute brilliant and sensitive cymbal touches of Agnas brings me straight back again. Phhhhheeeuuwww… what will happen now? NOW?! As a listener you are thrown into new situations over and over. How beautiful that is! And the melodies stay with me. Inside of me. Sharp as the figurative quality of a J.S Bach or a Thelonious Monk composition. Bringing influences and beauty of Ornette and Don into self explanatorily balance. The trio shares. Music. Life. The Maestro is setting up the story here. Never told before. But always known. Sharing is all. By interaction. Sharing is. Interaction. Maestro. La Baraka! Thanks for all the sharings. Of Music. Of Life.
Swedish bass clarinetist Christer Bothén, who turns 80 this month, has been having a bit of a late-career renaissance, mostly through work with younger countryman Mats Gustafsson’s large ensembles of the past decade Fire! Orchestra and NU Ensemble. The latter (who wrote the liner notes herein) is a champion of a particular generation of avant garde players (Joe McPhee, Akira Sakata, et al.) and with Bothén there is not only the shared origins but also Bothén’s early work with Don Cherry—a major Gustafsson influence— during the trumpeter’s ‘70s Scandinavian sojourn. That is not to say that Bothén has not been busy over the decades. Some of his work has been in what can broadly be classified as world music, as inspired by Cherry and informed by his own travels and collaborations where he plays instruments like the atabal and guimbri alongside his clarinets, while other efforts are more within an avant garde realm in groups of varying sizes and instrumentation, including a quintet for five contrabass clarinets. Omen is a compelling trio date, which begs for Bothén to have a greater reputation outside of Sweden. The LP, released by Poland’s Bocian imprint and originally with Bothén’s individual artwork before Gustafsson’s notes were added for later pressings, finds the leader on both bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet with bassist Vilhelm Bromander and drummer Konrad Agnas, 46 and 48 years younger, respectively and the former a regular collaborator. Bothén wrote the five tracks and his playing has a range and depth that makes the unusual format seem quite varied, whether he is soaring alto-like over perky rhythms, adding malevolent undercurrents to arco basslines or caterwauling through mechanized hardbop.
Andrey Henkin, The New York City Jazz Record