BC Quintet
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BC Quintet

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz World


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"February 2006, CD Review by Jerome Wilson, Static, Bjorn Wennas"

Here we have three modern guitarists who aren’t afraid to range far and wide in their playing, starting with Bjorn Wennas who seems to take his cues from the likes of Abercrombie and Scofield. (1) starts out as gritty, chugging Jazz-rock with Wennas, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, and vocalist Carmen Marsico carving out a rough beat on “Song 2” and mixing grit and noise with lyricism later on “Static” and “P.I.N.Y.” Wennas also has a tender side which he shows on a pretty trio version of “Nardis,” bass and drums rolling while he glides and slips over the top like liquid mercury. “Ruby My Dear,” meanwhile, is a delicate duet for Wennas’ careful picking and Marsico’s strong but delicate voice. The guitarist saves his wildest moves for “Lonnie’s Lament” done as another trio version, this time with Bruno Raberg and Ziv Ravitz laying down a heavy beat while Wennas pours on the electronic whines and shimmies, sliding around his strings until he eventually ends up doing a rocking reggae sound. Wennas is an inventive and versatile modern player. - Cadence Magazine

"Summer 2005, CD Review by Scott Yanow, Static, Bjorn Wennas"

This is a thoroughly unpredictable set of post-bop jazz that at times almost becomes avant-garde. The opening "Song 2" features some impressive wordless vocalizing by Carmen Marsico in the ensembles. In addition, trumpeter Phil Grenadier utilizes a staccato style in his solo reminiscent of Kenny Wheeler, and there is some thunderous bowed bass from Bruno Raberg. "Static" is a spacy and intriguing tune that sounds like part of "All the Things You Are." Also notable are three standards that have some of their melody notes altered. Certainly these versions of "Nardis" (which puts the focus on Bjorn Wennas' guitar) and "Ruby My Dear" (a duet between Marsico's voice and the leader's guitar) are unique, while Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" is not all that recognizable. While the guitar/bass/drums numbers are worthy, it is the five selections that include Marsico and/or Grenadier (they are on four songs apiece) that are most exciting and adventurous. This set is well worth several listens, and Carmen Marsico is a name to look for in the future. - AMG all music guide

"January 2004, CD Review by Michael P. Gladstone, Sogno, Carmen Marsico"

...this is Carmen Marsico's jazz vocal debut... Marsico's choice of material shows a good sense of balance mixing standards with known jazz compositions and two originals. The accompanying group, a guitar plus rhythm section combo, sounds well oiled and crisp...Marsico's voice is pleasant and well adapted to the jazz sensibility... She acquits herself well on the two standards, "All or Nothing at All" and "Just One of Those Things",...in which she scats effectively. A Jobim tune, "Chovendo na Roseira" is handled nicely. On the originals, "Tensions" and "Over Me", Marsico employs a vocalese technique... Her best moments come on the three jazz standards. Monk's "Pannonica" features a little-heard Jon Hendricks lyric...On the Horace Silver ballad "Lonely Woman", Marsico sings the compelling Lorraine Feather lyrics and the concluding Charlie Parker "Confirmation",... All in all, a pleasant vocal jazz entry and we look forward to the next undertaking. - All About Jazz

"June 11, 2003, CD Review by Torsten Carlsson, Early Summer Sketch, Bjorn Wennas"

From Boston streams jazz music with an Sodertalje connection. It is guitarist Bjorn Wennas that released the CD Early Summer Sketch with his own quartet-enforced with vocalist Carmen Marsico.
This sounds really good. As a composer Bjorn Wennas is in the beginning of his career. But we can already hear mood settings-infused curiosity, visions of the future and a bit of melancholy. As a matter of fact it is easy to compare it to Peter Asplund’s CD Open Mind. Asplund might be a bit more developed than Wennas-however, the ambition and talent is just as obvious in both of these Sodertalje sons.
Wennas himself is an interesting guitarist. Above all, his interplay with saxophonist Kristof Bacso is excellent. Bacso plays both alto and soprano on the CD- and how he plays these instruments!
Ziv Ravitz on drums and Jeff Denson on bass complete this new quartet. And just as you are about to conclude comes a track with vocalist Carmen Marsico-she adds even more to the group’s attraction.
Bjorn Wennas is currently working with Marsico, and a new CD is about to be released soon.
We are looking forward to see both the quartet as well as Carmen Marsico on a tour of Bjorn’s home country-and home city-eventually.
- Lanstidningen

"2005, CD Review by Glenn Astarita, Static, Bjorn Wennas"

Young Swedish jazz guitarist and Berklee School of Music grad Bjorn Wennas, focuses more on compositional form tinged with a purposeful outlook during his sophomore effort. And for those who entertain comparisons, the artist’s style might reside somewhere between Jim Hall and Mick Goodrick. But Wennas does perpetuate a distinctive methodology via these generally slow to medium-tempo jazz workouts, fused with punchy horn charts and vocalist Carmen Marsico's lyrically charged vocalise on selected tracks.

With funk-rock grooves, loping jazz movements, contrasting horns-guitar choruses and other stylizations, the guitarist mixes up his palate rather effectively here. As his dark-toned, electric lines surge forward with capacious voicings and probing chord progressions.

Vocalist Carmen Marsico and Wennas spin Monk’s “Ruby My Dear,” into an intimate duet, complete with a buoyant bridge amid an after-hours type vibe. However, as a technician Wennas is in no great rush to get anywhere and concentrates more on churning out subtle inventions via an animated approach. Certain pieces sustain more interest than others. Yet Wennas conveys a mature vision during the preponderance of these craftily arranged works, awash with subtle surprises and the soloists hearty sojourns.
- Jazzreview

"2005, CD Review by John Kelman, Static, Bjorn Wennas"

While guitarist Pat Metheny has moved on to forge his own
distinctive style since playing with Boston legend Mick Goodrick
in vibraphonist Gary Burton’s mid-‘70s group, Goodrick’s
harmonic sensibility has been one of the foundations on which
Metheny has built his approach. This was apparent during Metheny's
performance with Goodrick at this year's Montreal Jazz Festival.

Goodrick has never received the kind of credit that he’s truly
deserved, yet listening to Bjorn Wennas, a young Swedish guitarist
who now calls Boston his home, it’s clear that Goodrick’s influence
continues to be felt amongst a younger generation of players. Wennas has his own things to say on Static, his third release as a leader,
alongside (among others) bassist Bruno Raberg--another Swedish
musician, who has been an educator at the Berklee School of Music, where Wennas studied; and who has a number of records out himself, including last year’s sleeper, the remarkable Chrysalis. But listening to
his harmonic conception on “J.D.,” a duet with Raberg, and “L’Uomo
e la Montagna,” a sextet piece that features Raberg along with drummer
Ziv Ravitz, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, vocalist Carmen Marsico, and
pianist Michel Reis, one can’t help but recall Goodrick’s own ‘79 ECM
recording, In Pas(s)ing.

It’s also interesting to hear how youngish guitarists who are emerging as icons in their own right are influencing an even younger generation of players. While Wennas is a sparer player, a certain density of tone and arpeggiated approach demonstrates how Kurt Rosenwinkel, still only in his mid-30s, is already making his mark.

But despite these inevitable comparisons, what makes Static a success is Wennas’ own way of subsuming his influences into an approach all his own. He rephrases the familiar theme on Miles Davis’ “Nardis” in a fresh way that leads into a surprising 4/4 swing and a solo that, like all his work on Static, is defined by economy, a refreshing avoidance of pyrotechnics, and a clear eye on the meaning of every note and phrase.

Wennas demonstrates a unique take on standard material, like his duet with Marsico on Monk’s “Ruby My Dear” and his reading of Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament,” where he broadens the trio’s complexion with some subtle sound processing, are both inventive yet respectful, but he’s also a composer of promise. The arco ostinato and funk-laden drums of “Song 2” ultimately set up a rhythmically and harmonically idiosyncratic theme that leads into some intriguing interplay between Wennas, Marsico, and Grenadier. The title track demonstrates a kind of skewed lyricism over a repeated single-note figure from Grenadier, while the darker hue of “L’Uomo e la Montagne” reveals a more romantic bent.

That Wennas’ influences are currently worn so visibly on his sleeve would suggest that he has some growing to do. True enough, but based on the maturity of his conception on Static, it’s a fair bet that he’ll ultimately deliver on its not insignificant promise. - All About Jazz

"2005, CD Review by Jon Garelick, Static, Bjorn Wennas"

Bjorn Wennas has the chops you’d expect of someone who emigrated from Sweden to study at Berklee with guitar gurus Mick Goodrick and Jon Damian. But the emphasis on his second CD is composition and ensemble interplay. The lead-off track, "Song 2," begins with bassist Bruno Raberg belting out a phlegmy ostinato with his bow; he’s soon joined by drummer Ziv Ravitz’s funky backbeat and a zig-zagging boppish unison line voiced by Wennas, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, and singer Carmen Marsico. On the title track, a wandering melody unwinds over a ballad tempo, with Wennas and Grenadier trading background and foreground lines, giving way for a Raberg solo, and then fading on Wennas’s soft-voiced chords. Wennas can also play a slow solo and sustain it, as he does on "L’uomo e la montagna," a sextet number with Michael Reis on piano. Marsico’s vocals don’t even enter until a good six minutes into the eight-and-a-half-minute piece, turning it into a bossa.

Wennas’s arrangements are never predictable, and that includes the familiar "Ruby My Dear" (a duo for voice and guitar) and "Lonnie’s Lament." The trio "Nardis" even gets a good walking-four groove going with some dirty rock-guitar tone. - The Phoenix

"2005, CD Review by Ove Wall, Static, Bjorn Wennas"

Bjorn Wennas, Swedish guitar player residing in Boston, came out with his first album two years ago. It was, in my opinion a uninvolved or possibly held back, album with a accomplished, not to say stabile handling of the instruments but with a lack of expression which made it less interesting. On this second album I find, despite its title ‘Static’, the involvement, breathing, an engagement and variation and also an openness that I was missing then. To be a secretive jazz musician is easy. The hard part is to not be one and here I find the open door that invites me, like in Wennas’ solo in L’uomo e la Montagna, a quiet minor ballad, in which he is playing with a very long delay, an effect that returns in other songs, Lonnie’s Lament for one, together with volume swells and legato playing.
Technical variation opens the doors for many possibilities and Bjorn Wennas makes use of a lot of them. J.D. is played on an acoustic steel string in duet with Boston residing, Swedish bass player Bruno Raberg. P.I.N.Y. starts out with a lonely arpeggiated guitar line that gets attacked by a cool horn section (that I would have loved to hear more of) that in its turn gets pushed back by a distorted guitar. Song 2 is distinguished by a rhythmical cubism outlines by a bowed bass by Raberg, but the songs core is of a significantly freer in its form with plenty of trading between guitar and wordless vocals which gives me a feeling of almost theatrical expression
The title track ‘Static’ is a remarkable composition with an incredibly exciting guitar harmony that follows its own path throughout the tune, sort of apart from the rest. It awakes your curiosity through its self-proclaimed solitaire state and its odd being. More of that freedom and brazen attitude is something that I would like to hear. - Om Jazz

"September 7, 2005, CD Review by Ulf Gustavsson, Static, Bjorn Wennas"

Swedish guitarist Bjorn Wennas, who has studied and been active in the US with Boston as his hometown, is bringing a handful of talented Boston musicians along on his second solo outing ‘Static’, including vocalist Carmen Marsico.

In comparison with Wennas’ previous CD the settings on this one are more varied, ranging from duo to sextet, playing his own original music as well as songs by Coltrane, Monk and Davis. Wennas’ free melodic thinking and lyrical playing can be enjoyed by anyone who likes Pat Metheney’s jazz guitar playing. Wennas’ tone is distinct, direct and naked. At the same time I like the rockier, distorted sound that comes out in his version of Miles Davis’ Nardis. - Upsala Nya Tidning


"Early Summer Sketch" - Bjorn Wennas Quartet, January 2003
"Sogno" - Carmen Marsico, April 2003
"Static" - Bjorn Wennas, July 2005



Co-leaders in life and in music, the Boston-based married couple, guitarist/composer Bjorn Wennas and vocalist/composer Carmen Marsico, founded this group to perform their own original jazz compositions as well as creative arrangements of traditional material ranging from the music of Flemish composer Orlando di Lasso to ancient sun chants.

The Swedish-born Wennas came to Boston in 1999 to study at the Berklee College of Music on scholarship after earning his Bachelor's Degree in Musicology and Anthropology from Uppsala University, where he focused on studying jazz improvisation from an anthropological perspective. Influenced as a child by musicians such as Pink Floyd and early David Bowie, his own original music blends improvisation with rock, pop and jazz sensibilities. His most recent recording, Static, led critics to write, "Wennas is an inventive and versatile modern player" (Jerome Wilson, Cadence), "what makes Static a success is Wennas' own way of subsuming his influences into an approach all his own" (John Kelman, AllAboutJazz.com) and "Wennas’s arrangements are never predictable" (Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix).

Born in Italy, Marsico also came to Boston on scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where she studied jazz composition and improvisation with Kevin Mahogany, Bob Stoloff, Mili Bermejo, Ed Tomassi and Lisa Thorson, who would become her mentor. Recently called "a name to look for in the future," by the All Music Guide's Scott Yanow, Marsico performs regularly with her husband and many of Boston's most notable improvisers. She also leads her own jazz quintet, which performs her arrangements of standard material as well as her original jazz compositions influenced by traditional Italian and Brazilian music. Her debut release, Sogno, was released in 2003.