At the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival, the American trumpeter Bobby Medina led a big band in a program that drew on his bebop credentials and his Latin American heritage. Claus Sörenson’s XL Big Band of musicians from throughout southern Sweden was impressive in its versatility as it negotiated Medina’s demanding arrangements. Married to a woman from Sweden, Medina is known here for his history with the festival. For the 2015 edition, he was chosen to play from the St. Mary’s Church tower the traditional 10 p.m. fanfare assuring Ystad’s citizens that all is well. This year, that honor went to the Japanese saxophonist Yosuke Sato.
Medina paid tribute to two of his trumpet inspirations, Chet Baker and Blue Mitchell. His arrangement of “Autumn Leaves” incorporated a transcription for his trumpet and the saxophone section of Baker’s solo from the 1974 CTI album She Was Too Good To Me. His melding of Baker’s inventiveness into the arrangement was clever and moving. The calypso-based “Fungii Mama” was the title tune of Mitchell’s 1964 album The Thing To Do. Medina’s trumpet solo led into a harmonically resourceful alto sax solo by Ludwig Samuelsson, one of several gifted saxophone soloists in the band. Samuelsson scored again on Horace Silver’s “Filthy McNasty.” An intercultural highlight of Medina’s set was “Forever My Love,” a danzón inspired by his Mexican ancestry. His deep and powerful flugelhorn solo preceded an equally effective guitar chorus by the XL’s Anders Apell. Playing into a tight mute, Medina shined brightly in Tom Kubis’s up-tempo arrangement of “There Is No Greater Love.”
The trumpeter included in his concert a guest appearance by a young Swedish singer and dancer billed only as Frans (pictured left), whose performance had elements of hip-hop. It was entertaining if, in the context, somewhat puzzling. (Photo: M. Fägersten)
(Still more from Ystad as writing time materializes; this is a tightly scheduled festival. There is a lot of listening to do. Please stay tuned.)