24 January 2018: Back in business

After taking a break over the Christmas/new year period – which included a non-gigging trip to New York – Jan’s back in business this Saturday, 27 January, at the Konserthus in Växsjö, down in the south of Sweden. It’s rather a special concert to be kicking off 2018 with: Lundgren on piano, plus Mattias Svensson on bass and Zoltan Csörsz on drums, accompanied by a 15-strong string orchestra called Musica Vitae – a sort of Ystad Concert on steroids, in fact. Jan tells us that they’ll be playing several Jan Johansson pieces, as well as some of his own compositions, including Man in the fog and Mare Nostrum. All of the arrangements have been written by Martin Berggren, who did the same job for The Ystad Concert project (which you can read chapter and verse about in FoJL’s October 2015 interview with Martin here). Tickets are still available so, if you feel like starting off your 2018 Lundgren season with a bang, get yourself over to ticketmaster.se as soon as possible.

12 October 2017: Great hair

What the heck (to borrow a favourite phrase from the prolific Marc ‘JazzWax’ Myers). We just found this old film of Jan performing in Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, back in 2000. Click on the YouTube symbol in the bottom right-hand corner if you want to know who else was there that night.

4 October 2017: Going south

Considering Jan takes at least five or six planes a week, we were surprised to receive this photo from him yesterday. He took it at a rainy Arlanda airport, Stockholm, while waiting for his flight to push back for a connection to Frankfurt and then on to Johannesburg. “I’m excited” Jan confessed, on the eve of what will be his first tour of South Africa. He’s got four gigs in the country between tomorow, 5 October, and 10 October. The concerts are in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg (pictured), plus an invitation-only performance at the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria.

Jan’s playing in a line-up his management calls the ‘Jan Lundgren Special Trio’, which comprises South African musicians Romy Brauteseth on bass and Peter Auret on drums. Both are well known in the local jazz scene – find out more about Romy here, and Peter here. And if you’re reading this Update in South Africa and feel like popping along to watch Lundgren and friends doing their thing, go to our Gigs page or janlundgren.com for venue information.

25 September 2017: When Doug met Bill

US jazz journalist Doug Ramsey (right) and his compatriot, pianist Bill Mays, are currently offering a free download of a live recording they made in October 2015 at Yakima in the US state of Washington. Called ‘A Brief History of Jazz Piano’, the recording is effectively a concert, in which Doug introduces and Bill plays pieces mostly composed and made famous by American pianists. Among other things, Doug writes the Rifftides jazz blog and has penned erudite liner notes for a number of Jan’s albums, while Bill has been playing professionally since 1961. The duo repeated this first performance in Yakima at the 2016 Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival. You can get the download here, or by clicking the link on Bill’s website page.

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).