Fans of improvised music in general, and jazz in particular, are people with an exaggerated need for fresh stimuli. That is why jazz imposes such merciless demands on its practitioners for constant innovation. And it is why European jazz, with its proprietary sources and idioms, is on everyone's radar screens.
Pan-Pan, by 32-year-old Swedish pianist Daniel Karlsson, could only come from outside the United States. It is absolutely jazz-accomplished and fiery jazz-but it approaches group form in unfamiliar ways. Karlsson uses two drummers, Jon Falt and Janne Robertson, and thereby deepens the density and the rhythmic complexity of his six-piece ensemble. It works because the recording is skillfully engineered by Janne Hansson. All instruments are clearly discriminated, with one drummer per channel.
Tenor saxophonist Per "Texas" Johansson and trumpeter Magnus Broo (who are both strong enough to hold their own anywhere, including New York City) are also imaginatively deployed. They "solo," but often late, after weighing in on the ensemble's thematic development, and in expressions closely integrated with the total design of each piece. Karlsson's own piano lines are assertive and diverse, but they too are important because of their contribution to something larger-his ambitious formal concepts.
Pan-Pan is an exceptionally promising recording debut.