By j. poet | Published February 2019
Swedish trombonist and bandleader Karin Hammar boasts an extensive résumé. She spent several years playing alongside her sister, trombonist Mimi Hammar, in The Sliding Hammars, a band that paid tribute to J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding. She also was part of trumpeter Hildegunn Öiseth’s world-music group, spent time in several big bands and recorded and toured with various pop singers. Although she started playing classical music, the improvisational freedom Hammar discovered in jazz led her to pursue a unique path, and her wide-ranging interests are evident on Circles. There’s a hint of bossa nova in the rhythm of the title track, as she opens by stating the melody with melancholy phrasing. Drummer Fredrik Rundqvist supports her exchanges with guitarist Andreas Hourdakis with sparkling work on his ride cymbal and hi-hat. “Bossa For Ella” showcases bassist Niklas Fernqvist, who supplies a laid-back Brazilian pulse to complement Hammar’s tranquil ornamentations. And when the band covers Nina Simone’s “Four Women,” a challenging rumination on sex and race in America, it maintains the tune’s subtle Latin feel, emphasizing the song’s celebratory aspect with quiet improvisations that lead to an expansive conclusion.
Circles: Circles; Mammakech; Bossa For Ella; Choose Your Issues/Hildegunn; Praia De Buzios; New O; Four Women; Habbit Rabbit; Uphill. (52:52)
Personnel: Karin Hammar, trombone; Niklas Fernqvist, bass; Fredrik Rundqvist, drums; Andreas Hourdakis, guitar.