Magnus Öström

The Capstone Theatre
18th September 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Magnus Öström turned up at The Capstone after two sell out concerts at Ronnie Scott's in London. There was a not a full auditorium tonight, but those who turned up were treated to an evening of jazz rock showcasing his group's new album, Searching For Jupiter.

As luck would have it, Jupiter is the brightest object in the firmament at the moment as it traverses backwards and forwards through the Constellation Gemini. This is very appropriate, because like the star sign his work at present is looking in two directions at once; back to the loss in 2008 of his best friend Esbjorn Svensson of EST fame, the group that made his name and forward to the new enterprise on display tonight.

He was joined on stage by guitarist Andreas Hourdakis, pianist Daniel Karlsson and Tobias Gabrielsson on bass. As for Ostrum himself, he brought his skills that won him acclaim with the 2012 Echo International Drummer Award.

Dressed in skinny vests and jeans and with an unassuming panache, the supports exuded typical Scandinavian body language as they backed up the softly spoken Swede, who, at centre stage, hogged the limelight.

The music was at times slow-paced and equivocal; the prog-rock opener 'The Moon (And the Air Moves)' prefaced the livelier 'Dancing At the Dutch Treat'. Öström is at his best when he opens his shoulders in expansive mode, which also brings the rest of the band to life.

Bassist Gabrielsson ups the ante too when on keyboards, but there is still a wistfulness and reticence in compositions that eshew melody in favour of complex juxtapositions of electro acoustic content. 'Mary Jane Doesn't Live Here Anymore' is a good example. The title track gives them all a chance to improvise, if not let their hair down and the upbeat 'At The End Of Eternity' is an indication of what might come as the new venture gains stature.

Bowing to the appreciative audience in close formation at the end, arms wrapped around each other and soaking up the warm applause, Öström's quartet look to have embraced the new challenge well.

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