Updates

This is the place where FoJL puts anything new, topical, curious or just plain odd that we see about Jan. If you come across something that you think would interest Jan’s fans, like an album Facebook logo 2review or an interview (in any language – it doesn’t have to be in English), send an email to guyjones@friendsofjanlundgren.com, and we’ll post a story or link here. For older Updates, go to the Archive page. You might also want to give our Facebook page a try.

22 September 2017: It’s out

Following on from our 15 September Update below, a quick reminder that History Of Piano Jazz is out today for streaming and downloading on all decent digital platforms worldwide. Remember, too, that going digital is the only way to listen to History if you didn’t buy the CD at one of Jan’s live performances of this material back in 2006. If you’re still into downloading – which, let’s face it, hardly anyone is these days – you can find the record at (among many other places) iTunes. But the fastest and easiest way to peruse this wonderful album is through your favourite streaming service. For a lot of people, that’s Spotify. Oh, and the full artwork and liner notes are on Fog Arts’ website, here.

15 September 2017: Alone again

Jan’s got a solo gig tonight at the Unterfahrt club in Munich, Germany. Which is rather fitting, given that our friends at Fog Arts, the Stockholm label that has now digitally reissued five of Jan’s older out-of-print albums, is re-releasing the little-known History Of Piano Jazz on 22 September. It’s a very special recording of a live performance that Jan gave in Gustavsberg (east of the Swedish capital) in 2006, at which he paid tribute to a host of legendary jazz piano masters, from Teddy Wilson through to Keith Jarrett.

The History CD was only ever available for purchase at this particular concert series across Sweden, never in record stores. So, unless you were lucky enough to attend one of these gigs over a decade ago, you’re unlikely to have heard the album. What’s more, History is one of only three solo records that Jan’s made in his long career. The other two – Man In The Fog (2013) and All By Myself (2014) – are both studio albums and, while you can still buy the latter from Fresh Sound, the former has been unavailable since Bee Jazz went out of business at the end of 2014.

Fogs Arts is purely a digital label, so there won’t be a CD. But you’ll be able to stream History from 22 September through all the usual platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play etc, and/or purchase a download from iTunes, Amazon and all other decent downloaders worldwide.

Make sure you do. History is an exquisite record that showcases all of Jan’s improvisational genius, warmth and in-depth knowledge of the Great American Songbook. And, as such, it represents an important milestone in his 20+ years of professional music-making.

8 August 2017: A magical experience

In his media interviews and conversations with audiences, “magical” was the word Jan used time and time again to describe last week’s Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival (1-6 August). It was the longest festival to date, and nearly 11,000 tickets were sold – another record for YSJF.

Jan appeared officially at three concerts. The first was a four-hour marathon on the opening day, Monica Z – for ever and ever, featuring the Swedish singers Tommy Körberg, Svante Thuresson and Hannah Svensson, together with the Ekdahl & Bagge Big Band. Jan took turns with Carl Bagge at the piano as the ensemble performed a slab of the late Monica Zetterlund’s repertoire to a packed Ystad Arena.

Then, on Friday, Jan gave a duo concert with the great Nils Landgren at Ystads Teater. It was an intimate and distinctly informal show, with Jan and Nisse appearing to improvise the entire programme. Of course, they’ve performed together numerous times in the past – usually as part of larger line-ups, but occasionally in this double act – so it all worked beautifully, leaving the audience in raptures.

Jan’s third gig was on Saturday night with his new Potsdamer Quartet – Finnish saxophonist Jukka Perko, former EST bassist Dan Berglund from Sweden, and Danish drummer Morten Lund. Morten in particular was, as they say, ‘on fire’ for the whole set, while Jan, Jukka and Dan reciprocated with some of the most virile improv FoJL has seen in a long time. The band was giving its first Ystad performance of their new album, Potsdamer Platz, whose songs they took to an entirely new level in the excitement of Ystad Teater’s live setting.

Inevitably, Jan also popped up unofficially at some concerts. These appearances included a four-handed stint at the keyboard with the ace Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala during the latter’s solo concert on Sunday at Klosterkyrkan (if you’re on Facebook, you can find a smartphone video of their antics together). And, naturally, an indefatigable Lundgren dutifully turned up for the late-night jam sessions at Marinan restaurant.

So, as always at YSJF, a great time was had by Jan, the other artists and all the audiences. In fact, it was magical.

21 July 2017: Spain the German way

ACT has now issued its press release and other promotional material about Jan’s second album as sideman with German drummer Wolfgang Haffner (see our 1 June Update below) – go here for the various downloads. There’s not much in the handout about Herr Lundgren, but it does provide some useful background to the record’s genesis and, among other things, a full track listing. Kind Of Spain is being released worldwide on 25 August, so look out for it in decent record shops, at ACT’s website and, a few weeks later, on Spotify, Apple Music or your other digital platforms of preference (since ACT never streams new albums in their entirety until well after they’re issued).

2 June 2017: More from Germany

Almost immediately after posting yesterday’s Update about Jan’s sideman role on Wolfgang Haffner’s upcoming Kind Of Spain album, another featured artist on the record, Sebastian Studnitzky, got in touch to tell us about some of his other projects. We like it when that happens.

Berlin-based Sebastian is a trumpeter, piano player and composer who’s equally at home whether he’s recording with Wolfgang (which he’s done many times), playing in the horn section of Nils Landgren’s iconic Funk Unit (another regular event), acting as a sideman for the Norwegian singer-songwriter Rebekka Bakken, or even supporting the ubiquitous British wunderkind Jacob Collier. Sebastian has also led his own line-ups, of course, with April witnessing the release of a new album, KY organic, which brings Studnitzky together with drummer Tim Sarhan and guitarist Laurenz Karsten in a work that takes its aesthetic influences from electronic music but was recorded acoustically. The trio will be performing KY organic live on 25 June at this year’s JazzBaltica festival in Germany (where Jan will also be playing his Jan Johnasson tribute with Mattias Svensson and a string quartet).

And then there’s Sebastian’s composing side, where his biggest project to date has been the orchestral piece Memento. At its core are Studnitzky’s piano and trumpet, along with drums and double bass. Then he adds a chamber orchestra (or a string quartet at some live performances) for what he calls an “orchestral experience”. Sebastian won the prestigious Echo Jazz prize for Memento in 2015, and an album was relesased the same year. As the clip below shows, it’s a highly original and appealing work, while the way Studnitzky effortlessly switches between the piano and trumpet gives you a clear idea of his skill and versatility.

1 June 2017: Kind of back

Jan’s back as a sideman with German drumming supremo Wolfgang Haffner for a new ACT album that will be released on 25 August. Called Kind Of Spain, it’s a six-strong line-up which, in addition to Wolfgang and Jan, includes the German artists Sebastian Studnitzky on trumpet, guitarist Daniel Stelter and Christopher Dell on vibes, while Sweden’s Lars Danielsson chips in on bass. FoJL hasn’t heard any of the music yet although, if the record is anything like Haffner’s Kind Of Cool (2015, ACT) which also featured Jan and Christopher, we can expect something equally, well, cool.

As for the album’s Spanish theme, Wolfgang lives on the island of Ibiza, so he knows a thing or two about Spain. And check out Daniel Stelter in the video below, playing a wonderfully infectious and distinctly Latin-inspired number with his fellow German, Christoph Moschberger, on flugelhorn. The song is an original composition by Daniel that goes by the name of Kleinmond.

30 May 2017: A gem

Anton Garcia-Fernandez, publisher of the American jazz blog Jazz Flashes and one of FoJL’s greatest friends, has recently started posting two-sentence reviews on his personal Facebook page of the albums, both old and new, that he’s currently enjoying. JLT’s Svenska Landskap, which was reissued by Fog Arts on 5 May 2017, is the subject of Anton’s post today:

14 May 2017: Back to nature

A quick reminder to anyone who hasn’t yet noticed that Jan Lundgren Trio’s mini-classic from 2003, Svenska Landskap, was reissued by our friends at Fog Arts last weekend (5 May) for streaming and downloading on all good digital patforms worldwide. It’s also received a warm review from FoJL’s equally good friend, Tennessee-based blogger Anton Garcia-Fernandez, in his 12 May Jazz Flashes post, in which Anton describes Svenska Landskap as a “masterful melding of jazz and Scandinavian folk music”. You can read the piece here.

If you want to remind yourself exactly why Svenska Landskap is such a great album, just type “Jan Lundgren Trio” or “Svenska Landskap” into the search function of your favourite streaming or downloading portal, like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes or Amazon, and have another listen. You’ll also find all the original liner notes – in English as well as Swedish – on the dedicated album page at Fog Arts’ website: Svenska Landskap.

27 March 2017: Four hands good

It was a pretty intensive gig schedule for Jan last week, dominated by four consecutive nights that began in Oslo on Thursday with Scott Hamilton, Karin Krog, Hans Backenroth and Kristian Leth performing material from their The Best Things In Life album (2015, Stunt). And last Tuesday saw another of Jan’s solo outings, ‘Music and memories’, at Vimmerby in the Swedish county of Småland – “It’s always nice to do that one” he tells us.

Then, on Wednesday (22 March), Jan gave a duo concert with Czech pianist Emil Viklicky at the concert hall in Brno, Czech Republic. “It went really well, both musically and audience-wise” Jan reports. “The 500-seat house was sold out, so the organisers added another 50 standing places. The crowd and the venue were wonderful, and it turned out to be a super-nice way to spend my 51st birthday.”

Emil dropped FoJL a line afterwards too. “The concert was a great success, and Jan and I had a ball. That kind of night doesn’t happen very often – the interplay was very inspired.” Emil also sent us the links to a couple of filmed excerpts from the concert that have been posted on YouTube (where, by the way, you’ll find many other clips of his trio and other performances). So here are Lundgren (right) and Viklicky working their four-handed magic with a lovely Moravian folk song arranged by Emil.

21 March 2017: Shades of Jolly and Hallberg

Tomorrow night in Brno, Czech Republic, Jan joins forces with Emil Viklicky for a double piano concert. It’s an unusual line-up, but not an unprecedented one; long-time fans of Jan will be well aware of his double piano collaborations in the past – first with Pete Jolly (on the 2001 album, Collaboration) and, second, with Bengt Hallberg (Back To Back, 2011). “Emil was originally booked to perform with fellow Czech pianist Karel Ruzicka, but he died last September” Jan explains. “Rather than cancel the gig, Emil invited me to step in for Karel, which I regard as a great honour.”

“Viklicky and Ruzicka are/were the finest Czech jazz pianists of their generation. Emil shares my own interest in the reinterpretation of folk music in a jazz idiom, so the audience can expect some traditional Czech and Swedish songs, and I’m sure we’ll do a few standards and improvisations too. I’ve never worked with Emil before, so I’m really looking forward to it. And, inevitably, this collaboration brings back happy memories of playing with both Pete and Bengt.”

9 March 2017: Potsdamer in Poland

After being dribbled out in Scandinavia at the end of January, Potsdamer Platz, the new Jan Lundgren European Quartet album, was fully released by ACT in the closing days of February. A number of post-release gigs have been lined up for the Quartet (featuring saxophonist Jukka Perko, Dan Berglund on bass and drummer Morten Lund), the first of which took place in Szczecin, Poland, on 2 March. As Jan reported on his official Facebook page: “It was a very nice first concert in a beautiful new concert hall. I really adore playing in Poland, where the love for jazz is immense – as is respect for the arts generally. Stanko, Komeda, Szulaski, Namyslowski, Urbaniak, Makowicz and Seifert to name just a few: they’ve given Poland such a strong reputation that’s been continued up to today by a long string of wonderful younger generations.”

13 February 2017: As fresh as ever

On Saturday night in Malmö, Jan kicked off a new series of Tribute to Jan Johansson concerts for 2017 with Mattias Svensson on bass and a string quartet (whose composition regularly changes, depending on where and when the gigs are happening – see our 22 July 2016 story at Conversations).

“It’s always such a joy performing with Mattias and the quartet, and yesterday’s sold-out Palladium concert was no exception” Jan tells us. “Mattias, who’s been very busy lately taking care of his family, which now includes his two recently-born sons Valentine and Melvin, played better than ever. The always great-sounding string quartet also delivered a fine performance, consisting last night of Australian/Austrian Joanna Lewis, Costa Rican/Austrian Emily Stewart, and the Swedish sisters Karolina Weber Ekdahl and Charlotta Weber Widerström. All of them are terrific musicians.”

“It’s now two years since the project started and one year since The Ystad Concert was released. But still it feels so fresh every time.”

13 January 2017: Listen again

Today sees the fourth digital reissue by Fog Arts of some of Jan’s early albums for the now-defunct Sittel label. It’s Jan Lundgren Trio’s For Listeners Only from 2001, and features Jan, Mattias Svensson (bass) and Rasmus Kilhberg (drums) grooving their way through a combination of eight Lundgren originals, plus a ninth by Mattias. The record was actually released on the same day as Jan Lundgren Trio Plays The Music Of Victor Young (also reissued by Fog Arts last September), and turned out to be a pretty big seller. Jan still plays several of the tracks on For Listeners Only at his trio concerts today, including Time to leave again in particular. As with Fog Arts’ previous reissues, the album is available for streaming and downloading on all the major digital platforms worldwide: Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Deezer and eMusic, to name just a few.