We can’t bear to delete our older Updates… So here they all are, right back to when we started the page in May 2014. Some of them may well be suffering from what’s called ‘link rot’ (that is, the links no longer work), but we hope you’ll get the drift anyway.
22 December 2014: Jan tops Jazz Journal critics’ poll – again
All By Myself, Jan’s second solo studio album, has topped the 2014 critics’ poll of the UK’s Jazz Journal for the ‘best new issue’ category. (You can see a summarised version of the rankings here, and read the full results of this year’s poll in the magazine’s January issue.) If this news sounds a bit like deja vu, it’s because Jan won Jazz Journal’s 2011 poll for the album he made with Chuck Berghofer and Joe LaBarbera, Together Again… At The Jazz Bakery. “This latest vote is really overwhelming” says a stunned Jan. “I obviously have some strong support among UK critics, which is surprising, given that I very rarely perform in Britain. So I’m truly thrilled that recordings of mine have come top of Jazz Journal’s poll twice in four years.”
16 December 2014: A second chance
Great news if you live in or near Sweden’s capital city. A second Come Fly With Us performance has been fixed for Stockholm on Thursday 12 February – the first one on 13 February sold out really fast (see our 8 December Update below). Like the Friday night concert, it’s taking place at Stockholm’s Konserthuset, although the tickets aren’t available for booking until tomorrow (17 December). So get your internet browser ready. Chances are this extra gig is going to sell out pretty quickly as well.
12 December 2014: Berlin bonanza
Jan – and FoJL – are back from Wednesday night’s A Kind Of Cool concert in Berlin. And what a performance it was. “A really special evening for me” Jan told us on the plane back to Stockholm the next day. “It was a tremendous privilege to play with Wolfgang Haffner and so many other world-class, super-talented musicians, and to do it in such a prestigious venue. The audience was wonderful, too: incredibly appreciative, warm and enthusiastic. I’ve been fortunate to perform in a number of large, sold-out houses in recent months, but this Berlin gig will stick in my mind for a long time to come.”
As we expected, there were copies of the new album on sale at the Kammermusiksaal, and several hundred concert-goers formed an orderly, German-style queue to buy it when the performance had finished. In fact, Jan, Dan, Wolfgang and Jukka signed CDs and chatted with the audience for about an hour and half afterwards. “I haven’t experienced that since I last toured Japan” says a flattered but slightly bemused Jan.
The record is still scheduled for official release in February next year so, if you weren’t in Berlin and you want a copy, you’ll probably have to wait until then. Because it’s highly unlikely there’ll be a repeat concert any time soon. “It’s so hard to get that number of top-flight musicians together in one place” Jan explains. “They’re always solidly booked such a long way in advance.” What a pity…
9 December 2014: Cool in Berlin
Tomorrow night sees the first (and perhaps only?) live performance, in Berlin, of Jan’s first new project with his former and now re-joined record label, ACT. It’s called A Kind Of Cool, and you’ll find an Update about it from 17 September in the Archive. FoJL’s been lucky enough to get a ticket to the concert, which is now sold out, so we aim to report back to you here on how the evening went in the next few days. And then, glancing at Wolfgang Haffner’s Releases page on ACT’s website this morning, we discovered that you can already sample some of the tracks on the accompanying album. ACT says the release date in Germany for the CD is 27 February 2015, but we’re hoping there’ll be a few rogue copies lying around the Kammermusiksaal in Berlin tomorrow. In any event, now that you know what the album looks like, you’ll be ready to pounce on it when the CD finally appears in record stores.
8 December 2014: Great in Krakow
An email popped into the FoJL mailbox just now from an enthused Jan, who’s currently in Poland. “Having a great time in Krakow, a city full of life and, I’m delighted to say, jazz clubs. Polish jazz seems to be in very good health, with an armada of young musicians. I had the pleasure yesterday to be in the jury for the annual Jazz Juniors competition. Five bands performed, all of them excellent quality. We’re finishing the jury work today.” As the publicity shot above makes clear, Jan, Mattias and Zoltan also did a gig in Krakow last night. And that’s the first time we’ve seen JLT billed as a Swedish-Hungarian group. But why not? Zoltan – if you didn’t know it – was born and brought up in Hungary, moving to Sweden as a young man to continue his studies at the Academy of Music in Malmö.
8 December 2014: A Sinatra celebration
If you’ve recently been looking at our Gigs page, or the Concerts section of janlundgren.com, you might have noticed that Jan is going to tour something in February called Come Fly With Us. What is it? Well, next year will be the centenary of Frank Sinatra’s birth (on 12 December 1915, if you weren’t sure). So Musik i Syd, an organisation that produces and sponsors cultural events primarily in the south of Sweden, has brought Jan together with a number of other artists for seven performances of songs from Sinatra’s voluminous repertoire.
The line-up is both illustrious and eclectic. In addition to Jan, it comprises Sweden’s greatest living trombonist and showman, Nils Landgren – probably the only musician who can take apart and reassemble his instrument while continuing to play it (honestly, we’ve seen him perform this party trick in front of 2,000 people); virtuoso classical guitarist Göran Söllscher, venerated for playing lute music on a custom-made, 11-string alto guitar (even harder than it looks); and ace jazz singer Miriam Aïda, who many Friends will already be familiar with, not least because of the 2002 JLT album, Jan Lundgren Trio Presents Miriam Aïda & Fredrik Kronkvist. Jan, Nils, Göran and Miriam will be backed by highly accomplished Swedish-Danish string players, the Kroger Quartet, and the arrangements have been penned by Christopher Nobin. You can expect to hear songs like Come fly with me and My way, plus a few that aren’t so well known. But do hurry up and book your tickets if you want to go. The Stockholm gig on 13 February is already sold out, and there’s likely to be heavy demand for the other concerts too.
2 December 2014: Thanks a million
News reaches us that Can you please?, the Mattias Svensson composition from JLT’s album I Love Jan Lundgren Trio, has now been streamed on Spotify over 1,000,000 times. Can you believe that? It’s such a big number for a jazz track that was released only 12 months ago. So the next time you bump into the Jive Master in a bar, make sure he buys you a drink (or three).
25 November 2014: Worth a read
FoJL has been wading wearily through the flotsam of what constitutes so much of the worldwide web, trying to find an enlightening review or two of Jan’s current tour with Harry Allen. Nothing’s emerged so far but, happily for our sanity, we stumbled across an English-language, Q&A-style interview with Jan on the website of French magazine Jazz Hot from December 2013 (so apologies for letting that slip through our net…). As well as covering a lot of ground that will already be familiar to many of FoJL’s members (tennis-playing youth, adolescent purchase of Night Train, etc), the interview includes some interesting observations from Jan about the dearth of once-ubiquitous jazz festivals in Sweden, the implications for jazz of its ageing audience, and Jan’s relatively late exploration of traditional Swedish music. The piece is well worth reading if, like us, Jazz Hot’s interview escaped your notice when it was first published.
22 November 2014: Finally here
A text message arrived this morning from Jan: “The Harry Allen-Jan Lundgren Quartet Quietly There CD has now been released.” At last! Nice cover artwork, too. The album will probably pop up for purchase in its physical form and as a download in all the usual places soon. If you can’t wait until then, though, the CD already seems to be available by mail order from this Danish website: JazzKlubben. Jan adds, by the way: “The tour is going great!” And, just to avoid any potential for confusion when you’re out shopping for the record, we should ourselves add that the new album (on Stunt Records) is credited to Harry Allen/Jan Lundgren Quartet, rather than the Jan Lundgren-Harry Allen Group – which is what FoJL was originally told the line-up was called. We do hope the error hasn’t annoyed Harry…
20 November 2014: Very quietly there
It’s out there somewhere… but we’re not sure exactly where. And we still have no idea what it looks like. What are we talking about? The Jan Lundgren-Harry Allen Group’s new CD of Johnny Mandel songs, of course (see the 24 October story below). Thanks to this interview with Jan, NS 18 Nov 2014, which appeared in the Swedish regional newspaper Norra Skåne on Tuesday, we now know that the album is called Quietly There. But there’s no sign of it yet on Stunt Records’ website, on Amazon, iTunes or anywhere else, so we’re guessing that the official release date of 24 November still stands. Those of you who’ve been lucky enough to catch Jan, Harry, Hans and Kristian playing the new record’s material live on their current Scandinavian tour will already know what it sounds like. The jazz boffins among you may also be aware that there have been at least three previous albums called Quietly There released by other artists: Bill Perkins in 1966 (generally regarded as OK, if a little cheesy in parts); Chet Baker, also in 1966 (not one of Chet’s best); and Zoot Sims in 1984 (something of a minor classic). What, we wonder, is posterity going to make of Lundgren-Allen’s contribution to the Johnny Mandel songbook?
18 November 2014: Back from Russia
We got an email from Jan at the weekend. “Feeling a little bit jet-lagged after getting back from our Russian concerts…” he writes. “But both gigs were great. We had big crowds and enthusiastic audiences. We really loved performing over there again!” And then, today, some photos kindly organised by Mattias arrived at FoJL’s global headquarters. Aren’t they good? If the Jive Master ever gives up playing bass – which, of course, we sincerely hope he won’t – we’ll definitely give him a job as FoJL’s art director. By the way, the guy in the four-man shot standing between Jan and a distinctly frozen-looking Zoltan is, as you’ve probably already guessed, the super-talented Grégoire Maret. Hard to tell when he’s wearing that hat…
7 November 2014: Big in Russia
Our spies in Moscow have sent us this snap of Jan, Mattias and Zoltan apparently attempting to dominate the Russian capital’s skyline from a monstrously large poster draped across the facade of the Tschaikovsky Hall. (OK, slight exaggeration… but it’s still quite a big poster.) It’s a useful reminder that JLT is playing there on Tuesday 11 November, followed by a concert at the Philharmonic Hall in Abakan on Thursday 13 November. On both nights, JLT is sharing the stage with Grégoire Maret, so they promise to be exceptionally good gigs. If you’re keen to go, but you’re not quite sure where Abakan is, we can tell you that the city is the capital of the Republic of Khakassia, located in the central part of the Minusinsk Depression. And, to make it even easier to find, we’ve included this delightful aerial shot of Abakan’s bustling downtown area.
6 November 2014: The piano guy is OK!
Oh, this is good. A video (below) has popped up on YouTube of a young Swedish group called Negative Nancy. According to their website, Negative Nancy “is a pop-rocking quartet [although there are a lot more than four of them on this particular song] that finds inspiration in funky and upbeat ska rhythms”. And guess who’s featuring on the piano? It’s none other than Jan, nonchalantly rocking away with the band, and even managing to squeeze in a half-minute solo (at about 3:20 into the film – if funky ska isn’t your thing). Jan explains: “The singer, Nicodemus, has been working with YSJF for a few years now. Like me, he’s based in Ystad. All the band are in their early 20s, and they’re great fun.” But perhaps the best part about this discovery is that, in the comments section below the video on YouTube, someone has written “Sweet! The piano guy is OK! ; -)”. Well, yes, he certainly is.
30 October 2014: The youngest Friend of Jan Lundgren?
We’ve just signed up what we’re pretty sure is FoJL’s youngest Friend. He’s 12 year-old Matthies Klink, who lives in Goirle in the southern Netherlands close to the Belgian border. Matthies has been playing the piano since he was six, and tells us – in already near-perfect English, by the way – that he discovered Jan’s music during a family trip to Malmö in May this year. “We saw a poster for a JLT concert with the Swedish poet Jacques Werup and just decided to go. We didn’t understand anything Jacques said, but the piano music was great. We also managed to have a talk with Jan afterwards, who suggested I try playing some Scott Joplin!”
So when JLT performed in Koblenz (pictured) on 20 October, Matthies, his harp-playing brother Jöran and their parents hopped in the car and drove the 275 kilometres from their home down into Germany specifically to catch the gig. What did Matthies make of the performance? “It’s just very good music. There are often surprising changes in a single piece and I like that. They also improvise a lot, and I like that too.”
Matthies has got three of Jan’s albums: European Standards, Man In The Fog and Flowers Of Sendai. “My favourite number is Man in the fog on both the Fog and Flowers CDs, although I like the Flowers of Sendai track as well. I’m now very curious to hear All By Myself.”
“It was wonderful to see Matthies and his family again in Koblenz” says an impressed Jan. “I can’t believe the huge effort they made to attend our concert. And it fills me with hope for the future of jazz that young musicians like Matthies can show such enthusiasm for the genre.”
24 October 2014: When Harry met Jan – Part III
Further to our Update of 22 July (which has moved to the Archive page), we now know that the new Jan Lundgren-Harry Allen Group CD of Johnny Mandel songs will be released on 24 November in Copenhagen. Together with Hans Backenroth (bass) and Kristian Leth (drums, pictured), Jan and Harry will perform the material the very same evening at local venue JazzCup. But we’ve got no idea what the album’s called, and even less idea what it looks like. We do know, however, that the CD is being released on the Danish label Stunt, which is the jazz division of Sundance Records.
20 October 2014: A Japanese mystery – and bonus
Here’s something curious. FoJL has just been given a Japanese edition of the Flowers Of Sendai CD, marketed and distributed in Japan by AGATE under licence from Bee Jazz. The album ends with an additional, eleventh track as a bonus – the Jerome Kern classic, Yesterdays. Jan plays it solo, and it really is astonishing.
He’s recorded the song a number of times before, of course; for instance, as part of the album Portrait Of A Count (with Conte Candoli) and for Together Again… At The Jazz Bakery (with Chuck Berghofer and Joe LaBarbera). It also appears on Jan’s live solo album, History Of Piano Jazz – the little-known Lundgren CD from 2006 that’s only ever been available at concerts.
So where did this new version of Yesterdays come from? “I recorded it in 2011 during the sessions for Man In The Fog” Jan tells us. “But we decided not to include the tune on the CD because its style didn’t really fit with the tone of the album.” (See page 4 of the October 2013 issue of JLN if you’d like to know more.) And yet the very same version of Yesterdays has always been provided as a bonus track on the iTunes edition of Man In The Fog.
Confused? “The music industry sometimes works in mysterious ways…” says an equally mystified Jan. “The Japanese distributor of Flowers wanted a bonus track – I’m not sure why. So we gave them the only ‘spare’ recording we had!” Which is great news for Jan’s fans in Japan, if a little perplexing for the rest of us.
18 October 2014: Unbeatable
FoJL had the pleasure of bumping into Jan yesterday and, while his attention was momentarily diverted, took the opportunity to steal his personal copy of Orkester Journalen… So now, at last, we can give you the articles! Headed “Jazz’s freedom is unbeatable”, Leif Domnérus’ interview with Jan has a particular focus on his work for and at the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival, as well as highlighting some of the musicians who have influenced Jan in his long career. It also includes a couple of photos of a very young-looking Jan Lundgren with the great Arne Domnérus. You can read the piece here: OJ 2014 Lundgren article. And then, in the ‘Skivor’ section of OJ, there’s Stig Linderoth’s nice review of All By Myself: OJ 2014 ABM review.
15 October 2104: We found the cover…
…but we haven’t got the articles. We’re talking about the September/October edition of Orkester Journalen (see the 7 October Update), which features Jan on its cover. Yep, that’s definitely him… So all we need to see now is the actual interview with Mr Lundgren, and the review of All By Myself. A real, paper copy of Orkester Journalen is about as easy to find in Stockholm as an empty parking space on the last Saturday before Christmas, so the first Friend who’s brave enough to email FoJL the relevant, copyright-infringing PDF goes straight to the top of our list.
14 October 2014: Austrian crackling
Curious about how JLT’s Austrian gigs went? “We got a great reception” Jan tells FoJL in an email this morning. The Trio played Treibhaus – rather a famous Austrian jazz venue – in Innsbruck on Sunday evening and, on the Friday before, they performed in the town of Lustenau (pictured), which sits just on the border with Switzerland in the west of Austria. Grégoire Maret was with the band at the Lustenau concert, which you can read about in an enthusiastic German-language review published at Vorarlberg Online on 12 October. The reviewer, Thomas Pezold, describes the performance as “a crackling musical enjoyment which true friends of jazz couldn’t miss”.
8 October 2014: Jarasum debriefed
In the short gap between returning from Korea and flying off for two gigs later this week in Austria, FoJL managed to catch up with both Jan and Mattias for a quick debrief on their experience at Jarasum International Jazz Festival (see the 24 and 30 September stories below).
“The concert went really well!” Jan tells us. “The reception was tremendous, and the Korean people are so wonderfully kind and generous. It was a remarkable experience.”
“Four bands shared the stage the day we were on: the wonderful Norwegian trumpet player Mathias Eick, the great German pianist Joachim Kuehn, the legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker – and the Jan Lundgren Trio, featuring Grégoire Maret. The field was sold out: about 20,000 people. That’s definitely a new record for me.”
“Wow, what a big audience!” says Mattias, who also sent us these photographs (he took the first shot at the top from the stage himself – and, to give us a further idea of what it looked like for the performers, this fun seven-second video: Mattias’ film clip). “Yes, Jarasum was wonderful. It’s a concert that’s really going to stay in my memory as something special – Korea is such a fantastic place.”
The young woman pictured with Jan is Jung-Yoon Choi, who acted as JLT’s ‘hostess’ while they were there. “She looked after us so well” he says. “It’s absolutely typical of Jarasum – such a friendly and super-professional festival.”
7 October 2014: Swedish cover story
The new edition of Orkester Journalen (OJ), the ‘serious’ music journal read by all professional Swedish musicians and discerning members of the music-loving public, apparently includes Jan as a featured artist. This means he’s mentioned on the cover and there’s a long article about him inside. There’s also a fine review of All By Myself. We say “apparently”, because we’ve only just heard about it and so we haven’t yet had a chance to track down a copy of OJ’s latest issue. But we will, we will…
4 October 2014: Fog-bound Air France
Following on from yesterday’s Update, we’ve learned that Air France’s in-flight contemporary jazz channel, l’esprit JAZZ, is featuring Jan playing Man in the fog throughout September and October. Not especially big news in itself – although it’s nice to see the composition first on the channel’s 24-track playlist – but these things can have serendipitous consequences. Indiana-based Bill Mullin was flying on Air France from the US to Paris the other day, and decided to give the channel a try. “This simple, plaintive song struck me as the perfect calming performance for a nine-hour transatlantic flight” Bill told FoJL in an email this morning. “I’ll now be looking for all Jan’s records.” It’s fun when this kind of Damascene conversion happens, isn’t it? And then Bill’s email got us thinking: do please write and tell us about your own discovery of Jan’s music if you think it’s interesting, amusing – or even a little bit weird… After all, everyone’s got their personal story about how they first ‘found’ the work of Jan Lundgren.
3 October 2014: The fog of confusion
We’ve just had a chat with Jan’s manager, René Hess, who reminds us that the Jazz Journal 5-star reviews of All By Myself and I Love Jan Lundgren Trio mentioned below are not the first time Jan’s work has been awarded this accolade by the magazine. For Jazz Journal’s December 2013 edition, Michael Tucker penned a similarly glowing, 5-star review of Man In The Fog: JJ Dec 13 Lundgren review. So let’s be clear about this. The only two solo studio albums that Jan has made in his career to date have both been given five stars by UK-based jazz bible, Jazz Journal. Er, and now he/the Trio has/have been handed a third set of five stars for I Love JLT. OK, good, we’ve got it.
2 October 2014: A career ‘first’
An obviously rather awestruck Jan emailed FoJL last night to tell us this news: “The October edition of Jazz Journal has given me two 5-star reviews! I think that’s the first time it’s happened in my career…” All By Myself is reviewed by Mark Gardner, who says the album “will stand as a milestone in Lundgren’s career path”, while Michael Tucker calls I Love Jan Lundgren Trio “a fine, beautifully recorded session… [offering] music for grown-ups”. You can read the reviews here, or as a PDF: JJ Oct 14 Lundgren reviews. It’s particularly pleasing to see I Love JLT receiving such a complimentary write-up, because it’s a recent album, released only last November, that people don’t yet seem to know very well. Why? Issuing it as a limited-edition LP rather than on CD has made the record quite difficult to come by. Nor has it been reviewed much. That’s a real pity, because I Love JLT is an astonishingly good – and unusual – album by the Trio: six of the eight tracks are original Jan Lundgren compositions; it includes the Mattias Svensson song Can you please? which is proving so wildly popular on Spotify (see the myriad Updates below); and there’s a fantastic version of Chega de saudade/No more blues. We know that a lot of Jan’s fans don’t ‘do’ iPods, downloads or streaming. So come on, Figaro Music – vinyl’s fun, but start pressing some plastic as well!
1 October 2014: Back to the future
It was announced yesterday that Jan has re-signed with German jazz label ACT, which released four of his albums between 2005 and 2009. Founded and run by Siggi Loch (pictured here with Jan at the signing last Friday in Stockholm), ACT is a colossus of European jazz, whose international roster of talent includes just about every contemporary Swedish jazz artist of any distinction – like Nils Landgren, Lars Danielsson, Viktoria Tolstoy, Jacob Karlzon, Rigmor Gustafsson, Ulf Wakenius… and that’s only scratching the surface. FoJL is curious: how will Jan re-joining ACT affect his prodigious recording output? “It shouldn’t actually make much difference in terms of the breadth of what I do” he tells us. “The change that people will notice, I think, is that my recordings will be better, more actively promoted. So it’s good news all round, and I’m absolutely delighted to be back in the ACT family.”