A performance by Koma Saxo – i.e. double bass player Petter Eldh, drummer Christian Lillinger and saxophonists Otis Sandsjö, Jonas Kullhammar and Maciej Obara – is a feast for lovers of saxophone sound. Koma Saxo is in fact also the title of the album and project by Eldh. Although the double bass is clearly present, felt in each of the songs that make up this wonderful album, the protagonist is the saxophone – alto, tenor and baritone – both the lyrical and aggressive, avant-garde.
The Swedish leader of this phenomenal band eagerly talks about his idols and musical masters. Among them he mentions the legends of jazz double bass: Charles Mingus and Charlie Haden. Like them, Eldh leads the group, but does not come to the fore in the spotlight. Mingus and Haden let others shine, carefully selected soloists to fulfil their vision. The result was music extremely compact, full of power and stylistically diverse, balancing at the boundary of hard bop and free jazz, sometimes swinging.
A similar firmness, determination and uncompromising character inform the project of the Swedish bassist. It is primarily a study of the timbre of the instrument, meditation on the saxophone, but characterized by free-jazz courage and character. This music is based on the traditions of Mingus bands, which, however, willingly and boldly goes beyond typical jazz sounds. This is the jazz of the 21st century – changeable and heterogeneous, but always original.
Eldh will also perform with the saxophonist Sandsjö Eldh during two other events of this year’s Jazztopad Festival – this time in the line-up of Lucia Cadotsch’s band and the Y-OTIS II project. Koma Saxo's second saxophonist is Jonas Kullhammar, who has collaborated with Chick Corea and the popular rock group The Hives, among others. The saxophone triad at the front of the band is complemented by Mikko Innanen from Finland, who will be replaced in Wrocław by the excellent Polish saxophonist Maciej Obara, the founder of the Obara International Quartet, who will also perform with Louis Sclavis and Dominik Wania during this year’s edition of Jazztopad.
Koma Saxo are five great musicians who do not meet on stage only by chance. They are a regular band with their own sound and identity. These outstanding soloists, colourful musical personalities, jointly explore the possibilities of collective improvisation. “Even when it enjoys unfettered freedom, Koma Saxo is able to impose a sharp swing at any time. In quieter, more peaceful moments, the songs do not fall into cheap sentimentality,” we read on Eldh’s website