Of all imaginable nightmares I think one of the worst ones must be when a modern-jazz oriented musician has to play Dixieland. Being forced to return to the glorious jazz- and entertainment era when G7-chords were just G7-chords and where anything played that doesn’t lay exactly right on the sweet spot simply will sound like crap. A challenging situation that could leave even the best educated modern jazz-artist with the pants down. But the show must go on, as we learned from our heroes of yesterday, which in itself offers another irresistible challenge. If you start to learn about the history of jazz and the lives of the ones who created it you soon realise that optimism must have been a key factor to create this beautiful art form. And wouldn’t it be lovely to pay tribute to such a great tradition and pass it on!
Stride & Shine started in a very optimistic manner when Swedish Malmö-based pianist Sven-Erik Lundeqvist basically just showed up at my doorstep here in Sitges in Spain. He was carrying a tiny suitcase and asked if I would like to play some music with him. I thought I’d invite him for dinner at least – he did look a little bit hungry. Over dinner and a glass of wine we decided to set up a session the following day in my garage-studio. Since everything was last minute and we couldn’t find any bass player on such a short notice Sven-Erik suggested he’d take care of the bass part playing some stride-piano. I had to admire his courage of course but after he’d attacked my old shabby up-right piano in the garage I immediately learned that there was a lot more than only courage behind his words which appealed me to get my clarinet out. From that point there was no return really and this was a challenge worthy two stubborn soul-mates. Over a period Sven-Erik made sporadic visits to the house and we laughed, screamed and cried listening back to the music that we recorded. We pushed ourselves and each other as far as we could but after a couple of days of intense playing we usually had to call it off and go back to practise on our own in order to bring the music forward. Fortunately we were also joined by drummer Cornelia Nilsson and bassists Jordi Mestres and Tom Warburton at different occasions to share our burdens and finally something sounding like jazz started to pour out.
Eventually after about eighteen months we had to decide that the music would no longer benefit from keep trying to make it into what you would like it to be in a better world but to see it as a document of the kind beauty that can only be caught on the fly – as occasional pearls in the moment. That seems to be the only starting point anyway if you want to enjoy life and dare to improvise at all. Inspired by the braveness of our heroes we decided to just let go and release this selection of thirteen tracks. The initiated jazz-listener might be happy to see some old favourites on our playlist but we truly think that jazz is not only for experts. As a newcomer you can still kick back and enjoy the kind of music that helped your great grand parents to hit it off. Just be the living proof that they actually did and enjoy that somehow the show went on. And feel free to dance of course!