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Red Mitchell had moved to Sweden in the sixties. It was there that, in 1969, Red Mitchell formed this trio: with a twenty-four year-old pianist just back from an African tour with Stan Getz, Bobo Stenson and you know what became of him later and the drummer Rune Carlsson, who'd played with musicians as different as Eric Dolphy and Bill Evans; the trio was indeed exceptional, but it was (very) short-lived, so much so that this album is the only trace of it.
Recorded during a visit to Paris, "One Long String" was the first album to do justice to the innovations that Red Mitchell brought to an instrument he was totally in love with... which is probably the truth, because they say he always asked for a room with two beds when he was touring, so that he could tuck his bass in on one of them... He tuned it like a cello, in fifths, and he'd come up with an astute amplification system that extended the sound of the notes, establishing a legato in the melody line that people hadn't heard before on a bass.
It's amazing what gets lost. This recording from bassist Red Mitchell was originally released in 1969 but has long been out of print. How fortunate that it's back - a reminder of what a clever and energetic musician / composer Mitchell was.
What stands out most is Mitchell's unique style. He holds low-register notes and slides his way through a song's harmony. (The album title neatly sums up his appraoch to the instrument.) It's a less percussive sound than most bassists achieve, but it allows him to drive the melody as much as rhythm. There's no better example of this than on the standout track, "Narbild." His solo is as fluid as you'll ever hear from a bassist, relying on dynamics and textures rather than abstract plucking.
While he's always a fine interpreter of standards (in this case, a bright and bouncy version of "Stella by Starlight"), Mitchell was also a fine composer in his own right. There's a soulful edge to pieces such as "Peggy" and "Undertow," while "Total Tumult" suggests a classical chamber piece.
Pianist Bobo Stenson and drummer Rune Carlsson are equally impressive. Stenson's crystalline lines and impeccable sense of rhythm make a perfect foil for Mitchell's singing style, while Carlsson's aggressive work on the ride cymbal assures that the trio never loses its sense of swing. Full of energy and grace, this disc is a welcome reissue.
- John Frederick Moore --Jazziz - Sept. 2007