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LA LA LARS IV (2023) (Bandcamp)

One of Bandcamp’s recommended albums of 2023 is the fourth by LA LA LARS , a Swedish jazz group led by drummer Lars Skoglund, who also plays guitar, harmonica and additional keyboards on this album. ‘Lugn/ Stormen’ is brass fuelled contemporary jazz, Jonas Kullhammar and Guran Kajifeš combining effectively on sax and trumpet, respectively, Kullhammar throwing in a neat little solo over Carl Bagge’s stabbing piano chords, the trumpet reiterating the theme in the background, Johan Berthling and Lars Skoglund providing a solid rhythmic base. I loved the obtuse trumpet solo on ‘Flim Flam’, and the intricate drumming; this number would make a lovely VINCE GUARALDI alternative “Peanuts” soundtrack. ‘Tokyo’ is a lovely little ballad, with its swaying melody, and a Philacorda keyboard, presumably. ‘Nästan Där’ is a cultured, filmic piece with flute (Kullhammar again), the fluidity of the piano runs matched by the sensitivity of the music.

‘Svartan’ is the longest track at 5:40, suggesting a darker ‘film noir’ side to the music: too many Swedish crime dramas perhaps? Probably, given the next title, ‘Svenski Drama’, featuring some great trumpet blowing near the end. ‘Moll’ has a nice finger snapping rhythm and wordless vocal refrain; DAVE BRUBECK comes to mind, and on the whole parts of this album seemed to reflect the jazz ethic of KAMASI WASHINGTON. Nor must the contribution of Ylva Ceder’s addition of French horn and oboe in the second half of the album.

Is Bandcamp right about “La La Lars IV’ being one of the best jazz albums of 2023 – absolutely!  For the next one though, try to think up a title!

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