The Free Jazz Collective – Susana Santos Silva, Zetterberg & Lindwall – If Nothing Else ****½

By Stef

The second album is of a totally different nature. These are sounds of great distances, with an unusual line-up of trumpet, bass and organ, played by Susana Santos Silva, Torbjörn Zetterberg and Hampus Lindwall. Santos Silva and Zetterberg will be known to our readers, but Lindwall probably not, at least not to me, and that’s because he is mainly a performer of classical contemporary music, and he also is the “titular organist of the Saint-Esprit Church in Paris”.

So the sound of great distances, with the trumpet played with as if from the other end of a huge resonating space, with the organ offering an incredible somber and eery depth, and the bass is in between, probably closest to the listener, but equally epic in nature, and can be at times reminiscent of the Scandinavian sound of some ECM albums. It is expansive, open-ended, grand. Yet in contrast to the ECM sound, it has a darkness that is at times uncanny, as on “Atonality”, where the muted horn plays a sad improvisation supported by quietly wailing arco bass and the distant organ, that gives a single bass drone and a few sustained chords, and then the whole intense edifice reduces itself to atonal, barely audible sounds.

The album consists of eleven improvisations, and they keep their unique approach to the overall sound and interaction in a very consistent way, often fascinating, daring, and above all mesmerising and moving. Even the last track, “One Note Song”, is exactly what it says, yet when the beginning sounds like the sustained sound of a fog horn of a distant ship, the shifts in intensity and timbre turn it into something more somber and devastating, with just one note, just to showcase the vision behind the music and the quality of the three musicians to deliver it.


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