With its utterly distinctive chamber sound, Anders Jormin’s Ad Lucem is a certain winner this year in the Latin jazz category—no, not the Latin jazz played by Eddie Palmieri, but the considerably rarer kind featuring lyrics in the language of Caesar. The words, most of which the Swedish veteran wrote himself, are lit from within by his darkly luminous double-bass and lifted by the airy vocals of Mariam Wallentin and Erika Angell. For all its ethereal appeal, though, Ad Lucem derives earthy power from the brilliant reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist.
Ljungkvist’s ripping tenor saxophone and lustrous clarinet give this song cycle—a followup of sorts to In Winds, In Light, Jormin’s 2004 collection of poetry adaptations—its emotional center. Best known on this side of the pond for his work with the Scandinavian supergroup Atomic and Ken Vandermark, he brings a free-jazz immediacy to the music in choice spots.
Wallentin and Angell, both of whom have serious pop credentials, sometimes sound like they’re on leave from Leonard Cohen’s band with their soft, lilting vocals; their wordless vocals can suggest Flora Purim with the original Return to Forever. With his deep-rounded sound, Jormin brings singing qualities of his own to the songs, especially with his arco solo on “Lux.” The album, which features drummer Jon Fält, Jormin’s texturally gifted rhythm mate in the Bobo Stenson Trio, is in its own understated way open to adventure.