[This review was first published in Jazz Journal in 2010.]
Mads Kjølby (g, elg)
Steve Kershaw (b)
Petter Svärd (d, pc)
Moscow Night Train
The Tone, The Whole Tone and Nothing But the Tone
The Ballad of the Heavyweight Champions
So You Claim
Copenhagen 28th February and 1st March 2009.
SLAM Productions SLAMCD 282
The fourth release from this Danish-Anglo-Swedish trio. Always a band focussed on rhythm and hummable melody, the opening track begins sinisterly: shimmering and rumbling and twanging before giving way to long languid guitar lines which lope along over locomotive drums and a (there is no other word) groovy bassline. Mention must be made of their deconstruction of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. It may seem to be jumping on the bandwagon popularised by the likes of the Bad Plus, but Stekpanna have been doing this sort of mischief for years (previous albums have included tracks such as A Whole Lotta Love Supreme) and the simple changing of the rhythm makes the tune entirely theirs. The Tone, the Whole Tone and Nothing But the Tone might refer to whole tone scales but it could equally summarise the sound of the whole album. The sound throughout is gorgeous; this is music to make you smile.