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UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra
Stefan Pasborg

Ritual Dances


Album information

PerformerUMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra
Stefan Pasborg
LabelSunnyside Records

UMO-raitojen äänitys: Yleisradio

Where recordedG Livelab, 2019


The album Ritual Dances by Danish musician Stefan Pasborg is a drummer-composer's reinterpretation of Stravinsky classics.

Danish drummer/composer Stefan Pasborg grew up in a household of ballet dancers, allowing him to have an intimate relationship with their lifestyle and performances. One of his first formative musical experiences was witnessing a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s legendary ballet, The Rite of Spring, by The Danish Royal Ballet. The experience embedded a love for Stravinsky’s work that has manifested in Pasborg’s new recording, Ritual Dances.

The Rite of Spring and The Firebird were the two ballets that inspired Pasborg to reinterpret the Stravinsky’s work for a jazz big band. Ritual Dances takes music from these two works as a basis for Pasborg’s re-structuring. The pieces are heard performed by two large ensembles: the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra on two live cuts and Blood Sweat Drum+Bass for the complete studio recording. The bands are augmented by a number of soloists and electronic musicians.

The program begins with UMO’s take of Spring Round Dance, a bombastic and grooving piece with winding Rhodes and aggressive horns. Sacrificial Dance introduces the Blood Sweat Drum+Bass ensemble with a marching cadence, which builds into a rocking ending with Jeppe Kjellberg’s wailing guitar. Mystery and intensity are intertwined on Ritual Dance, while Pasborg’s subtle drums lead into Adoration of the Earth, where Stravinsky’s famous theme can clearly be heard on Fredrik Lundin’s tenor sax.

Overdriven guitar ambience leads to the edgy, martial cadence of Dances of the Young Girls; swirling crescendos feature a brilliant Ståle Storlokken organ solo. Ethereal percussion provides an aural bed for Goran Kajfes’s trumpet on Introduction, while Princess’ Game borrows from The Firebird in an enticingly spastic jaunt. The slinky sound of Infernal Dance has a noirish tinge. The laconic Tableau features a warm and slightly western duet between tenor player Anders Banke and guitarist Kjellberg before launching into a challenging rhythmic workout. Blood Sweat revisit Spring Round Dance with Lundin’s sax singing over the infectious, churning rhythms. The recording concludes with UMO’s intense and episodic performance of Dances of the Young Girls, featuring standout performances by Seppo Kantonen and Jussi Kannaste.

Stefan Pasborg’s reinvention of Igor Stravinsky’s iconic works from The Rite of Spring and The Firebird are as brilliant as they are invigorating. Ritual Dances doesn’t rewrite Stravinsky so much as bring his work into the 21st century in bombastic style.


  1. Spring Round Dance (Live)
  2. Sacrificial Dance
  3. Ritual Dance
  4. Adoration of the Earth
  5. Dances of the Young Girls (Studio)
  6. Introduction
  7. Princess' Game
  8. Infernal Dance
  9. Tableau
  10. Spring Round Dance (Studio)
  11. Dances of the Young Girls (Live)