13 December 2016: New Berlin album out soon
With all the new and reissued albums featuring Jan that have been released over the last 12 months or so, it’s easy to forget that he recorded yet another in May 2015. Jan’s primary label, ACT, has now announced the CD will finally be released on 27 January 2017. The album’s called Potsdamer Platz, and features 10 Lundgren originals, plus an eleventh written by the Swedish guitarist Per Ödberg.
Two of the tracks, Lycklig resa and The poet, have appeared before – the former on The Ystad Concert (2016), and the latter on I Love Jan Lundgren Trio (2013) – so it’ll be particularly interesting to hear how they sound in Potsdamer Platz’s quartet setting. It’s a pretty illustrious quartet, too, comprising Finnish alto and soprano sax player Jukka Perko, Swedish bassist Dan Berglund and one of Jan Lundgren Trio’s ‘resident’ drummers back in the old days, Morten Lund from Denmark. Everything you could possibly want to know about the new album is helpfully explained in ACT’s accompanying press release, which can be read on the label’s website. You can also sample three of the tracks by clicking here.
Why is the album called Potsdamer Platz? “I hadn’t thought up a name for it” explains Jan in the press release. “We were recording at the Hansa Studio at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, and one day when I woke up in the hotel, I suddenly realised I’d got it: ‘Potsdamer Platz’. The name fits perfectly with [the title track’s] jaunty, bright lights, big-city feel.”
11 December 2016: Jan gets picked up
Jan’s appointment as artistic director of Copenhagen’s Jazzhus Montmartre got picked up yesterday (10 December) by the tireless Marc Myers in his daily New York-based JazzWax blog. The short story included a link to the Update below and a nice photo of Mr Lundgren. It also provided an email address for Jan at Montmartre, which is the key part for artists hoping to fit the venue into their European touring schedules. By the way, Marc has got a fantastic new book out, Anatomy of a Song, which brings together and expands on his long-running series of articles for the Wall Street Journal about the provenance of iconic post-war rock, R&B and pop hits. We’re going to write more about Marc’s important book here on FoJL soon.
7 December 2016: A humbling new role
Those of you who live in the Nordic countries may have noticed quite a lot of media ‘noise’ last Thursday (1 December) when it was officially announced that Jan has been appointed as artistic director of Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen. ‘Legendary’ is a heavily over-used word in jazz but, for this particular venue (founded in 1959), the adjective fits perfectly. “Some of the world’s greatest jazz stars, such as Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster, practically lived at Montmartre for decades” explains Jan. “And it’s where a generation of Danish artists like Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Palle Mikkelborg learned their trade.”
Jan’s appointment is part of a new beginning for Montmartre, which had been facing an uncertain future after budget constraints prompted Copenhagen City to withdraw its annual grant to the venue. Happily, a number of private backers came forward to fill the financial hole and to fund what amounts to a total revamp of the club’s facilities and management. Montmartre will be closed for refurbishment in January 2017, but will reopen on 1 February.
What are the implications of this new role for Jan, given his already very busy schedule? “It won’t change my touring or recording commitments, and I’m continuing as artistic director of Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival. I’m going to be supported at Montmartre by a very capable assistant who’ll handle many of the details associated with bookings, which will allow me to adopt more of a strategic focus.”
“By that, I mean an expansion of the club’s horizons – a wider spectrum of international artists, as well as breaking new talent. There’s a broad range of American and other non-European acts who play in Europe but rarely visit Denmark. I want people like this to see Montmartre as part of the ‘circuit’.
“This is where the knowledge and contacts I’ve made in the last seven years as artistic director at Ystad will be valuable. It’s a role that forces me to keep up to date with what’s going on in international jazz circles, to listen to all kinds of music, and to stay on the look-out for new and different artists.
“I’m humbled by the task that faces me at Montmartre, and I’m delighted to have been asked to contribute to the future of this legendary scene.”
24 November 2016: Jan goes bi-lingual
Netherlands-based Jos Klink (pictured) has kindly sent us a copy of an interview he did with Jan this spring at Ystad. The piece appears in the autumn edition of Sverige Kuriren, which is a magazine published in both Swedish and Dutch by an association of Swedes and locals who live in the Netherlands. Among other things, Jan talks about his approach to making music, and admits he’s unlikely ever to be able to give it up. You can read the interview here: Sverige Kuriren autumn 2016 (it starts on page 11). Jos also reminds us that, to the best of his knowledge, Jan has only performed in Holland three times in his long career. So, about time for some more Dutch gigs?
14 November 2016: On and on – and on
The less said about this long-winded podcast, the better.
5 November 2016: Ellington and Strayhorn revisited
The third of Fog Arts‘ digital reissues of Jan’s albums for the now-defunct Sittel label (see our 24 September Update) was released yesterday. It’s his 1999 Something To Live For symphonic tribute to Ellington and Strayhorn, with Mattias Hjort on bass, Rasmus Kihlberg on drums and a 13-strong orchestra. You can look at or download the full artwork, including the liner notes, here. There’ll be a short interview with Jan about the album soon on our Conversations page. In the meantime, get busy listening or downloading this Lundgren classic on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music and pretty much every other digital platform worldwide.
22 October 2016: Obscure digging
Tennessee-based Anton Garcia-Fernandez (pictured), writer of The Vintage Bandstand and JazzFlashes blogs, published a great review yesterday of Fog Arts‘ newly reissued Jan Lundgren Trio Plays The Music Of Victor Young. He describes the album as “undoubtedly one of the best entries in Lundgren’s ever-growing discography” and, among other nice comments, commends Jan for digging up the obscure Young film ballad, Alone at last. Anton has valiantly committed to writing about all five of Fog Arts’ Jan Lundgren reissues over the coming months (see our 24 September Update), so we’ll let you know when they appear. You can read his Victor Young review here.
9 October 2016: Feeling thankful
The latest live outing for Jan’s Mare Nostrum II project with Richard Galliano and Paolo Fresu took place on Friday (7 October) at Nancy Jazz Pulsations in France. “It was a fabulous show” Jan tells us. “We played to a full house of 900 people at the beautiful Salle Poirel and, once again, I felt thankful for my good fortune in performing with Paolo and Richard – two such unbelievable musicians. You know, we started this project in autumn 2005, which means we’ve now been together for 11 years. It’s incredible how quickly the time goes.”
If you weren’t one of the lucky 900 at Salle Poirel, you’ll be pleased to know that the concert was filmed in its entirety, and – impressively quickly – was posted yesterday on the internet here. It’s no dodgy hand-held iPhone job either; professionally shot with fine sound quality, you can even watch it in high definition.
7 October 2016: One of the best
Ankara-based Fatih Erkan (pictured), who’s easily the biggest Jan Lundgren fan east of the Bosphorus, published a thoughtful and very complimentary review of The Ystad Concert last month on his excellent blog, Faith in Music. You can read the piece here. Fatih unashamedly calls it “one of the best jazz albums from the European scene of 2016”, which is praise indeed from a music aficionado who appears to own every single record ever issued by ACT, and is well known for his love of Scandinavian jazz among fans and musicians throughout northern Europe. And, of course, Turkey.
26 September 2016: Perfect
The Wall Street Journal’s tireless Marc Myers describes Jan Lundgren Trio’s newly-reissued Victor Young and Jule Styne tributes (see the Update below) as “perfect albums” on today’s edition of his must-read blog, JazzWax. Could it get any better than that? Well, yes, it could. Because Marc goes on to say: “Jan is spry on uptempo numbers (think Bill Evans and Alan Broadbent) and soulfully pensive on the slower tunes without bogging down or brooding too much. His technique is completely in touch with the American jazz approach while he retains a distinct Scandinavian depth. Both albums were brilliantly produced albums when released and remain so today. They shouldn’t be missed.”
24 September 2016: Back to the future
Eagle-eyed followers of FoJL’s Facebook page (and, for that matter, Guy Jones’ personal timeline on FB) will have noticed a series of none-too-subtle hints that five of Jan’s early JLT albums are about to be reissued in digital format for downloading and streaming. Originally released on the Swedish label Sittel between 1999 and 2003, a new Stockholm-based independent called Fog Arts has acquired licences for JLT Plays The Music of Victor Young (2001), JLT Plays The Music of Jule Styne (2002), Something To Live For (1999), For Listeners Only (2001) and Svenska Landskap (2003).
The Victor Young and Jule Styne albums went ‘live’ yesterday, and the other three will be dribbled out at roughly one a month from the end of October. Fog Arts has no plans at the moment to issue CDs or LPs, but you should already be able to find both the Young and the Styne albums on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon and every other digital platform of any importance worldwide (go here for some reminders).
None of these albums has previously been available as a download or for streaming. Sittel was acquired by Naxos a decade or so ago, but never released the albums digitally. The Swedish arm of Naxos still has a few JLT CDs tucked away in its vaults, but all five albums have essentially been unavailable for many years.
“I’m delighted people will be able to access these recordings again” says Jan. “I’m very proud of the five albums, and each of them constitutes an important milestone in the musical progression of Jan Lundgren Trio. What’s more, reissuing them digitally makes the records easy to find and buy as downloads or, if you prefer streaming, simply to dip into and sample at your leisure.”
So check out your favourite digital platform; visit Fog Arts’ website if you’d like to see the albums’ artwork, liner notes and other information; and like/friend/follow the Facebook pages of Fog Arts, FoJL and Guy Jones (who’s also on Twitter: @guyjonessthlm) to find out when the next three albums resurface.
25 August 2016: Great while it lasted
While most people in the northern hemisphere have been on holiday for large parts of July and August, Jan has been hard at work. Easily his biggest job during the period was fulfilling his duties as artistic director of the sixth Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival: “something like 8,000 tickets sold this year, and perhaps our most successful festival yet” Jan tells us. A great deal has been written about YSJF 2016 – in several languages – around the web and on Facebook, but perhaps the most thorough account was penned by Michael Tucker at the UK’s Jazz Journal (go here).
Other summer highlights have included another 50th birthday concert in Gothenburg, Sweden, which drew a packed audience of 800-plus enthusiastic Lundgren fans, and two ‘duo’ performances in Italy with the Italian photographer Pino Ninfa (see our 14 June Conversations piece for what actually happens at these events). And of course, YSJF featured sold-out gigs by Jan with, first, Richard Galliano and Paolo Fresu in their Mare Nostrum guise and, second, a repeat outing for The Ystad Concert Jan Johansson collaboration with Mattias Svensson and the Bonfiglioli Weber String Quartet.
Which brings us to the one, slightly downbeat piece of news about summer 2016: ACT’s limited-edition print of The Ystad Concert on vinyl has sold out. “They produced these LPs – between 1,000 and 2,000, I’m not sure of the exact number – essentially to raise the Ystad project’s overall profile” explains Jan. “But there are highly unlikely to be any further vinyl pressings of the album so, if you’ve already got one, keep it somewhere very safe. You might get lucky and find a copy still on the shelf in a record store, but you won’t be able to buy it new from ACT again.” What a shame.