17 April 2015: Funny in Östersund
Looks like JLT’s penultimate Norrland gig in Östersund last night went down well with the locals. Or at least we think so, judging by the title of the review which has appeared this morning on the website of Östersunds-Posten (ÖP). It’s headed “Jan Lundgren Trio offers virtuosity, beauty and humour”. Trouble is, FoJL doesn’t have a subscription to ÖP (strange, that…), so we can’t actually read the piece. Someone want to send us a PDF? ÖP’s reference to “humour” sounds particularly intriguing. Yes, we know it’s a monstrous breach of copyright, but we won’t tell anyone if you don’t…
16 April 2015: News from Norrland
“JLT’s Norrland tour is going very well” Jan told us in an email last night. “Really nice venues – small but with lots of atmosphere. Highly positive reviews in the local press too.” We gave you the link to the Sundsvalls Tidning story in our 14 April Update below. And here, following JLT’s concert in Hudiksvall on Tuesday night, is the review that appeared yesterday on Hudiksvals Tidning‘s website, from which we borrowed this photo of a relaxed Jan at the piano. Two more Norrland gigs left: Jan Lundgren Trio plays in Östersund tonight, and ends its tour tomorrow evening in Örnsköldsvik. And that, by the way, is merely scratching the surface of Norrland – a vast part of Sweden which, as the map helpfully makes clear, comprises well over half the country’s land mass, but only a very tiny percentage of its total population. OK… geography lesson over.
14 April 2015: Consistently brilliant
Two nice reviews have landed on FoJL’s desk. The first is from Sundsvalls Tidning which, as the name suggests, is the local newspaper for Sundsvall (pictured), where JLT began its Norrland club tour yesterday evening. Hans-Erik Bergman writes enthusiastically about Jan “weaving harmonious rugs in different shapes and colours” (!), the “technically elegant and imaginative solos” of Mattias, and Zoltan being “the perfect drummer”. You can read Hans-Erik’s full comments here.
The second review discusses Jan Lundgren Group’s 100 Years With Billie Holiday concert in Stockholm last Friday. Dan Backman from Sweden’s national daily, Svenska Dagbladet (SvD), subjects all of the artists’ performances to analytical scrutiny and, for the most part, finds them more than satisfactory. Karin Krog, for example, is hailed for her “impressive, cool aplomb”, while Jan’s piano is described as “consistently brilliant”, especially on his “sublime, spiritual” solo of Lover man. Dan’s review appears on SvD’s website.
13 April 2015: Gothenburg gold
Jan Lundgren Trio kicks off a club tour of Sweden today – five gigs across the middle part of the country between tonight and Friday evening, starting in Sundsvall. Then there’s a JLT show with Grégoire Maret at the Basel Jazz Festival on 24 April, followed on Sunday 26 April by something really special: JLT performing with Bengt-Arne Wallin and the Bohuslän Big Band at Gothenburg’s Stora Teatern. The project, Swedish Folklore NOW!, was premiered at the 2014 Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival and, later the same summer, played to an audience of 2,000 at Skansen in Stockholm. “It’s a golden experience for jazz fans and for us as musicians” explains Jan. “Bengt-Arne is a masterful arranger and bandleader and, at the grand old age of 89, is quite rightly considered a Swedish national treasure. And, let’s face it, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better, tighter big band anywhere in northern Europe today than the Bohuslän – they’re sensational. Really, you cannot miss this gig!” Tickets are available at Stora Teatern’s website.
11 April 2015: Holiday treat – with more to come
Last night saw the first performance of Jan Lundgren Group’s 100 Years With Billie Holiday concert at Stockholm’s Konserthus. As we warned in earlier Updates, the gig was sold out – which isn’t surprising, given the line-up of talent: three generations of awesome singers, Karin Krog, Rigmor Gustafsson and Isabella Lundgren; Harry Allen on tenor sax; guitarist Jacob Fischer; Hans Backenroth on bass and drummer Krisitian Leth. Oh, and some Swedish guy called Jan Lundgren playing the piano… Was he happy with how it went? “Very!” an excited Jan told FoJL afterwards. “Fine playing by everyone and a wonderful audience.” The performers got a standing ovation, and then cheerfully mingled, chatted and signed CDs in the lobby when the gig had finished (blurry evidence attached).
Don’t despair if you missed it. Jan will be leading another Billie Holiday celebration in Stavanger, Norway, on 7 May. And, although the organisers haven’t yet formally released details of this year’s concerts, it’s already an open secret that Jan’s traditional Saturday night appearance at the 2015 Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival will also be devoted to Billie Holiday. Do you think YSJF will get the spelling of Billie’s surname right ? As you can see from our photo of last night’s programme, it was something that Konserthus struggled with.
1 April 2015: Great in Gent
As Jan’s Mare Nostrum tour with Richard Galliano and Paolo Fresu continues its stately progress around some of Europe’s most august concert halls, FoJL caught up with Mr Lundgren after last night’s performance at Muziekcentrum De Bijloke in Gent, Belgium. “What a sensational venue!” reports Jan. “Bijloke was originally a hospital, built in the 13th century. I’ve never seen anything quite like it: it’s got a fantastic wooden roof, still totally intact. Very good acoustics, and flawless organisation behind the whole thing by super-professional staff. And, as usual, we had a great crowd. All in all, another truly wonderful experience for me, Paolo and Richard!”
1 April 2015: Holiday rush
A quick follow-up to our Update of 26 February: there are now fewer than 30 seats left for the Jan Lundgren Group’s 100 Years With Billie Holiday concert in Stockholm on 10 April. So you’d really better hurry if you want a ticket. You can go direct to Konserthuset’s booking page by clicking on this link.
31 March 2015: LA story
Although Jan performs in Britain only very rarely, FoJL gets a steady stream of new UK-based members. Our latest is Gordon Sapsed (pictured), who lives in Southampton on the south coast of England, but seems to spend a great deal of his time in Los Angeles. A keen photographer, Gordon has a website which contains a selection from over 15,000 photos that he’s taken of jazz musicians since digital cameras first appeared. His vast collection includes a series of pictures that Gordon snapped at various Jan Lundgren gigs in LA over the last decade. Recognise the line-up in this one? That’s right: it’s Jan performing with bassist Chuck Berghofer and drummer Joe LaBarbera more than seven years ago. Gordon’s not quite sure, but he thinks the photo was taken at the actual concert, on 2 January 2008, that was released by Fresh Sound in 2011 as Together Again… At The Jazz Bakery (the winner of Jazz Journal’s critics’ poll in the same year). So, in a small way, Gordon’s picture of the gig is a piece of history because, if you’re aware of the backgound to Together Again (which you can read here), you’ll know that the recording was never meant to be released and was rediscovered purely by chance.
28 March 2015: It’s a Swiss thing
Messrs Lundgren, Galliano and Fresu were in Switzerland again on Thursday night (26 March), performing their Mare Nostrum project at the Victoria Hall in Geneva. Jan sent us an excited email – and a photo of the artists’ entrance taken with his smartphone – when he got back to Sweden yesterday. “The concert was fantastic – one of the best we’ve ever had” enthuses Jan. “Victoria Hall was packed out and, just as we did at KKL in Lucerne [see our 19 March Update], we played completely ‘unplugged’. The acoustics in the Hall are unbelievable; it may well be the finest concert venue in the world from that point of view.” So, despite the rarity of playing acoustically, Jan, Richard and Paolo found themsleves doing it a second time just a week later. It must be a Swiss thing.
22 March 2015: Jan’s greatest hits?
Regular readers of Rifftides, the US-based jazz blog published by Doug Ramsey (pictured), will already know from Doug’s entry on Saturday 21 March that Fresh Sound is currently working on a compilation of Jan’s recordings for the label over the last 20 or so years for release later in 2015. Excluding Jan’s latest solo album All By Myself (since nothing from this particular record will be included in the upcoming compilation), Fresh Sound producer Dick Bank has a wealth of material to choose from, spanning no fewer than 13 albums. Jan’s first recording for Fresh Sound was Stockholm Get-together! with Herb Geller in 1994, while the most recent issue before All By Myself was the 2011 release Together Again… At the Jazz Bakery, with Chuck Berghofer and Joe LaBarbera.
We can understand why this new compilation may be of only limited interest to die-hard Jan Lundgren fans, since they probably already own all the records from which it will draw. But it should be fascinating for everyone to see which tracks are selected by Dick Bank. And, for new listeners who aren’t very familiar with Jan’s work, the compilation will surely provide them with a useful introduction to the variety of and progression in Jan’s approach over the last two decades. Moreover, if Doug’s liner notes for the new release are anywhere near as insightful and erudite as those he wrote for All By Myself, that’ll be reason enough on its own to purchase the record.
19 March 2015: An acoustic rarity
Jan did another Mare Nostrum gig last night with Richard Galliano and Paolo Fresu. They performed at the KKL concert hall – a stunning venue that seems to hover in the lake – in the beautiful Swiss city of Lucerne. FoJL got an update from Jan after the show: “In a very full and enthusiastic house, we played acoustically without any kind of amplification – which is extremely rare”. Just like their appearance in Vienna (see our 23 February story below), Jan, Paolo and Richard again did three encores before the audience wanted to leave. “It was a great response!” says an ebullient Jan. If you missed the event and live in or near Switzerland, you can catch the three of them again at Geneva’s Victoria Hall next Thursday (26 March), and at concerts in Belgium, Italy and Germany over the coming three months. See our Gigs page for details.