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.