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Review: The 2013 Umeå Jazz Festival

At 45, one of Europe's most durable and diverse festivals

Sidsel Endresen, Umeå Jazz Festival 2013

A dozen-ish years ago, I was interviewing the great Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson and asking about jazz festivals in Sweden worth checking out. His immediate and first response was the Umeå Jazz Festival, which I’d heard of but had yet to experience. Having just been there for the fourth time, for the 45th edition in October, I can second Stenson’s high praises for the quality and vision of a festival that-although a three-plus-day event in a smallish university town in the northern Norrland region of Sweden-ranks among the best of the several strong autumn festivals across the Atlantic.

Coincidentally, the high point of the latest edition, to these ears, was Stenson himself, a national treasure of Sweden and one of the most lyrically virtuosic lyrical pianists in jazz. Moreover, Stenson’s present trio, with his long-standing ally Anders Jormin on bass and the wonderfully and wily, inventive young(ish) drummer Jon Fält, is clearly one of the greatest jazz piano trios on the planet at this moment. You can hear it on their latest ECM album, Indicum, but you get the picture more deeply in an intimate venue, where their musical muses, individual and interactive, are in gear and in fluid collective motion.

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