Seen on July 5, 2015 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
Get a big band together of outstanding musicians in their own right and add a three decade experience of recording and performing with some of the world’s leading composers and you have the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra opening with a very powerful Fire to open an evening presenting the music of Ann-Sofi Soderqvist, hailed as Sweden’s answer to Maria Schneider. Living up to ts name the first composition is heavy instrumental fireworks. Big band composer and arranger Soderqvist has travelled with the orchestra and is clearly delighted to present her work through her admiration of this formidable orchestra. A bientot, written for her mother ttreasures the memory of someone dear “just a breath away” with breath held, full of promise, warm feelings and a gentleness that climaxes in an utter cry of farewell. A very different atmosphere is evoked in Remembering Frieda, which molody was the leading theme in a play about the Mexican artist known for her self portraits,symbols and dreams full of colour. Did I hear a hint to a Mexican trumpet?
The joy of creativity and a celebration of life can be heard in the next composition with an abundance of sound that make you loose your way. The music gives extra dimensions to the lyrics sung by Lena Swanberg. Similar support from the instrumentation comes in I want to stand strong where vocals, guitar, bass, piano are the undercurrent that catch the words and grow bigger than all self doubt and makes an alley. Soderqvist joins on French horn and shows that she enjoys playing as much as conducting. Four South African guest singers join the already full stage for a Wham song that hets totally funky. Soderqvist clearly enjoys her music played by this class band.
It is time to take the music down. Prayer was composed after a lunatic shot 67 young people gathered on an island near Oslo where 16-18 year old Social Democrats where discussing political ideas on a camp. The young man dressed up as a policeman and arrived at the island armed. It took the police one hour to arrive because the camp happened on an island. The song voices the despair that came over Soderqvist as she washed the trial live on TV. A song in honour of all the springflowers that were never allowed to blossom. Angry hearts and a frightened child offering a prayer for hope, light and love, always love.
With the bear walks in Sea the set of very diverse work of Soderqvist and entertaining solowork from Karl-Martin Almqvist, Gustavo Bergalli, Ola Bengston and Lena Swaneberg leaves the audience hungry for more.