"Autumn in Paris is a lyrical outing which both swings and successfully takes musical risks. This is a European based trio featuring guest saxophonist Charles Tyler, a former colleague of Albert Ayler. The Brus Trio is an adventurous collective comprised of Swedish pianist Arne Forsén, Swedish bassist Ulf Åkerhielm and South African drummer Gilbert Matthews."
Kalamu ya Salaam, Wavelength, February 1991
Charles Tyler has lived in Europe since 1982, first in Copenhagen and then in Paris. After the recordings made in fall 1981 for Storyville ("Definite" vols. 1 & 2, SLP-4098 & SLP-4099), Tyler decided to strive for greater flexibility of musical performance by playing the music of others to a much greater extent than ever before. He played bebop with French groups, performed and recorded with Khan Jamal ("Dark Warrior", SteepleChase SCS1196), sat in with the Steve Lacy Sextet, played African music with Paris-based ensembles, and even toured as a duo with just piano and saxophone. He played quite a bit with the Sun Ra Arkestra in Europe and aims soon to tour Japan with them.
Charles had played with Gilbert Matthews previously on occasion, but not with Arne Forsén and Ulf Åkerhielm, and there was a good deal of curiosity on all sides. In the spring of 1988, Brus Trio visited Paris as part of a tour of southern Europe and they were able to find time to jam with Charles. I heard a variety of reports but the essential message was unanimously that it had been a ball. The question concerning their performances in Stockholm was therefore not so much whether the group would function as a quartet, but more a matter of how well it would function.
The International Conference on Culture, Language and Artificial Intelligence (held in Stockholm, Sweden, between May 30th and June 3rd, 1988) was an important gathering organized by the Swedish Center for Working Life (Arbetslivscentrum) under the leadership of program committee chairman Bo Göranzon. It comprised lectures and workshops devoted to the theory of knowledge, artificial intelligence, mathematics, the history of ideas, computers and the law, education and training, knowledge and skill-transfer, the philosophy of language, and tradition and innovation in translation. Within the framework of the conference there were also a number of artistic contributions in the areas of theater, cabaret, music and art exhibitions.
The musical events included concert performances by the Haga String Quartet, the Nisse Sandström Jazz Quartet, and Charles Tyler with Brus Trio.
Brus Trio has ploughed its own furrow on the Swedish jazz scene ever since its inception in 1981. The individual members are highly responsive to statements from elsewhere within the trio and this has the result that, at any particular time, the music can move off in just about any direction. There are thus basic demands on each of the musicians, not only to be receptive to each other, but also to maintain form or structure in their improvisations together.
When a fourth instrumentalist joins the ensemble, a good deal of reshuffling takes place and the final outcome depends critically on the musical personality of the fourth participant. A couple of months or so before Charles Tyler arrived I heard Brus Trio together with Danish saxist, John Tchicai, in a most elegant performance at Fasching club in Stockholm. Very little of the guttsiness that marked the sessions with Tyler was to be heard in the Tchicai session, although that music was delightful too, albeit in a quite other way.
The prime features of Tyler's musicianship were already clear from his sixties recordings (ESP 1010, 1020, 1029, 1059), notably his fine instrumental technique, the characteristic careening style, the rich flow of ideas, the high humor, the big sound and his singular vibrato. The fact is though that Charles Tyler is a blues musician, despite his new-wave reputation of more that twenty years standing. The music begins to swing whenever he starts to play, and Brus Trio are receptive to this state of affairs.
The playful, gambolling style of their music is still quite evident in their efforts together with Tyler, but they swing a lot harder than perhaps is the case at other times. It's certainly true that Brus Trio swing a good deal when they want to, but it's also true that they often tend to lay stress on alternative dimensions of musical improvisation. With Tyler out front, the quartet was cooking for much of the time, even when solo passages took the music on the most bizarre trips. This is an aspect of Brus Trio I didn't altogether expect, but one that I can only rejoice in. There is something about their way of working that comes close to a definition of what jazz music is about, certainly jazz of the eighties.
Arne met Charles at Arlanda airport outside Stockholm and I met both of them a little later at Charles' hotel. The talk was pretty much about pianos. They had been at the Royal Dramatic Theater (Dramaten) already and Arne was most anxious to test the piano scheduled for the trip on the the theater boat (Teaterskeppet). A phone call ascertained that we were welcome right away to try it out. There were a few problems, but we were assured that these would be attended to forthwith under guarantee, since the piano was newly purchased.
Tuesday afternoon, May 31st, was spent in rehearsal on the small stage at Dramaten, including a sound-check. The music was pretty tricky but it started to come together convincingly. They were ready for their first performance at the conference proper on Wednesday morning. This was well received by a full auditorium of mathematicians, knowledge engineers, social scientists and philosophers.
The boat trip on Wednesday evening was a great success. The quartet performed at the start and close of the evening, and both times were well received by a capacity crowd.
Neither of the conference venues were really suitable in terms of recording the quartet and an alternative was sought. This proved to be a performance space in the south part of Stockholm operated by the Fylkingen Society for New Music and Intermedia Art. Fylkingen were able to provide a good, lively acoustic and a newly tuned Steinway grand piano.
When the recording session got under way it was soon evident that the quartet was fully fired up to express itself and in fine fettle from all points of view. It is unnecessary for me to describe in detail the turnings and pathways that the music took during that Thursday afternoon, all of which can be beard on the album and compact disc.
1. Saga of the Outlaws 12:22
2. Mörkrost (Dark Blend) 05:37
3. Mellanrost (Medium Blend) 06:38
4. Autumn in Paris 11:08
5. Forsén Special 14:10
6. Twing Twang Twiddle All Night Long 07:04
7. Legend of the Lawmen 05:14
Charles Tyler alto saxophone
Arne Forsén piano
Ulf Åkerhielm bass
Gilbert Matthews drums