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Bruno Raberg: Chrysalis

Professor Raberg-a Swede, bassist and long-time Berklee employee-will surely cringe at the notion, but there is something professorial about his latest recording. Neither his unremarkable themes nor the solid performance of his nonet would stop traffic. Raberg chooses fluidity over flash and has a knack for keeping things tidy even when most unconventional. He also seems to take more pleasure-or is at least more successful-in solving problems of arranging rather than in crafting music with spark or edge. Which is to say, his music does offer much for someone willing to listen closely or for someone who knows what to listen for.

Raberg crams all kinds of surprises and intricate details in and around his soloists and melodies. Dense harmonies pass from one voicing to another as they modulate; dark chords lurk under brightly played solos; 11 beat cells of overlapping rhythms transition into sections of 4/4 swing with hardly a bump. He has designed his nonet with voicings in mind. Having voices like Anders Bostrom’s battery of flutes, a trombone and bass trombone pair in Jeff Galindo and Tim Kelly (respectively), and fellow Berklee prof and guitarist Mick Goodrick on hand, Raberg constantly sets up creative countermelodies and supporting unison lines. He just keeps it all neatly packed inside, like tiny gears in a watch.

Originally Published