Swedish pianist/composer Bobo Stenson first came into prominence in the late '60s, accompanying jazz greats Gary Burton, Sonny Rollins and Stan Getz. He soon collaborated with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek, whose chamber music style of jazz contributed immeasurably to the success of Officium, his chart-topping otherworldly excursion with The Hilliard Ensemble.
Thirty-five years later, Stenson is playing some of the most sophisticated, refined and lyrical jazz you are likely to encounter. On Goodbye, the first recording with his new trio, repertoire ranges from arrangements of Henry Purcell's "Music for A While," written in the late 17th century, to Ornette Coleman's "Race Face" and Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns." The latter, which in lesser hands can often devolve into maudlin tripe, becomes one of the trio's many gorgeous exercises in restraint.
While Stenson and associates can easily move and swing with the best of them, they mostly prefer to allow space between notes, silences that communicate a quasi-mystical affirmation of beauty. Double-bassist Anders Jormin eschews expected rhythms to inhabit a parallel universe that somehow jives with Stenson's. The drums of American Paul Motian (another great who built his career performing with Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Keith Jarrett and his own trio) are equally unique. Rather than keeping the beat, Motian frequently brushes the drumhead in ways that contribute immeasurably to the disc's rarefied atmosphere.