18 March 2015: In good company
We’ve been surfing around the web, where we discovered that Jan’s new album with Wolfgang Haffner, Kind Of Cool, is currently at No 4 in the German charts for iTunes jazz downloads. Back on 11 March, the record was at the No 2 position. Germany is a huge market for jazz in Europe – probably the continent’s biggest – so it’s a strong performance. And, as Wolfgang remarked in a Facebook entry that day, the album is “in pretty good company”, sandwiched between Wallflower by Diana Krall at No 1 and, very appropriately, Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue at No 3. Wow, that record – released, don’t forget, in 1959 – just sells and sells, doesn’t it?
17 March 2015: At last…
The third edition of Jan Lundgren News (JLN) was published this morning. You can read (and download) a copy of the newsletter here: JLN March 2015. JLN 3 covers a range of subjects, from the inclusion of Jan’s version of the traditional Swedish song Brännvinn är mitt enda gull in a CD that will accompany an upcoming academic study, to his comments on the challenges he and producer Dick Bank encountered in preparing for and recording All By Myself, Jan’s latest solo album. Do have a look; we think you’ll enjoy it.
11 March 2015: The gnomes of Zurich
Jan Lundgren Trio played a gig in Zurich last night. The concert was at the city’s legendary jazz venue, Widder Bar, and was completely sold out. “It was a simply great crowd” Jan told us in an email today. “In fact, as Thad Jones would have said, ‘A good time was had by all‘! I should also add that Zoltan did some of his best playing ever.”
4 March 2015: Review round-up
Here are some reviews that you may have missed in the last few weeks. The Harry Allen/Jan Lundgren Quartet’s Quietly There got a nice write-up on 14 February from the German website, KultKomplott, while Jan’s new album with Wolfgang Haffner, Kind Of Cool, received a 4.5-star rating at All About Jazz on 4 February – as well as an enthusiastic pre-release review back in December from the German site, Vinyl-Fan.de. And then Jan Olsson at Sweden-based DIG Jazz awarded Jan’s solo masterpiece, All By Myself, no fewer than five stars. “The magnificent music Jan Lundgren offers on All By Myself places him without the slightest doubt in the same league as his sadly departed colleagues Bengt Hallberg and Jan Johansson” opines Mr Olsson, who concludes that the album as a whole is nothing less than “a world-class Swedish jazz classic”.
27 February 2015: Kind of out
Today sees the official release of Jan’s first recording for ACT since he rejoined the label. It’s Wolfgang Haffner’s Kind Of Cool, which FoJL wrote several Updates about over the autumn and winter period last year. We’ve had a copy of the CD since December, and we promise you it’s a great way to spend 60:24 minutes. Unlike the late (and not very lamented) Bee Jazz, ACT tends to make sure that its artists’ albums are actively promoted and distributed, so it should be relatively straightforward to get hold of a copy in decent record stores. You can also buy Kind Of Cool direct from ACT’s website – as a CD and on vinyl with a free MP3 download code – and the album’s available at iTunes (where it’ll be quicker to search for ‘Wolfgang Haffner’, rather than Jan). Happy listening!
26 February 2015: Hurry up – again
The Jan Lundgren Group (more about that in a second) is doing a one-off gig in the big hall of Stockholm’s Konserthus on 10 April. The concert marks the centenary of Billie Holiday’s birth, and there’s a terrific – and very cosmopolitan – line-up of musicians paying tribute. As well as its eponymous leader, the Jan Lundgren Group will that night comprise no fewer than three magnificent female singers: the wonderful Karin Krog from Norway, together with two heart-stoppingly good Swedes, Rigmor Gustafsson and Isabella Lundgren (no relation). US tenor saxophonist Harry Allen will be pitching in, as will Sweden’s very own ace of bass, Hans Backenroth. There’ll also be a couple of great Danes (ha ha): Jacob Fischer on guitar and Kristian Leth on drums. Not surprisingly, 100 Years With Billie Holiday is now very close to being sold out, so you really must point your browser immediately at Konserthuset’s website if you don’t want to be disappointed.
23 February 2015: Viennese encores
There seems to be no end to the popularity of Jan’s Mare Nostum project with Richard Galliano and Paolo Fresu. The three of them played the Vienna Konzerthaus on Saturday night and, as usual, the gig was sold out. “It was a tremendous experience” Jan told us in a text message yesterday. “The audience was amazing, and we did three encores before they were willing to leave the hall.” By the way, if you’ve ever wondered what musicians do backstage in the run-up to performing, part of the answer can be found in the fun photo that Jan snapped with his smartphone of Paolo before they went on stage. Is he checking the sheet music or warming up his trumpet? Of course not. He’s surfing the internet on his Apple Mac. Paolo’s one laidback, super-cool professional, isn’t he?
13 February 2015: Some enchanted evening
Look. If you live in the south of Sweden and you’re not too far from the city of Helsingborg, you absolutely must get one of the few remaining tickets for Jan’s final Come Fly With Us concert there on Saturday 14 February. FoJL went to the first Stockholm performance of the tour last night (there’s another one this evening, but it’s sold out), and it was – there just isn’t any other way to describe it – enchanting. Jan did two stunning solos – his jaw-dropping, Bach-tinged Fly me to the moon (see our 9 February Update), plus a sublime For once in my life – while the other artists were equally sensational. Nils Landgren’s measured, gentle vocals and immaculate, supremely tasteful trombone; the mind-blowing singer Miriam Aïda’s deliciously jazzy, almost funky treatment of Strangers in the night in particular (a song that can so easily become a dirge in the wrong hands, but hearing Miriam sing it was like dying and going to heaven); and classical guitarist Göran Söllscher’s beautiful, thought-provoking interplay with, in addition to the other performers, the truly fantastic Kroger Quartet. Honestly – you have simply got to go!
12 February 2015: Young pearls
Yesterday’s Update about the JLT/Hannah Svensson concert last Sunday reminds us that it’s almost exactly one year since Hannah’s latest album, Each Little Moment, was officially released. The CD was one of three designed to showcase new young Swedish jazz talent, put out simultaneously by the Volenza label. The other two albums were John Venkiah Trio’s Things Change, and Same Eyes As You by the Fanny Gunnarsson Quartet, and all three CDs were produced by Jan. What does he think about the project a year later?
“These albums haven’t had the media attention they deserved, even though they’ve been very well received by listeners who bought them and by the critics who wrote reviews” Jan says. “I wish more people would get the chance to discover these pearls. To anyone who likes the idea of supporting the next generation of jazz artists, I can strongly recommend all three albums. They were recorded at one the finest studios in Europe, STC Studios in Copenhagen, formerly known as Sun Studios. The results are highly professional and appealing.”
11 February 2015: As good as it gets
Jan punctuated his current Sinatra celebration tour of Sweden with a Jan Lundgren Trio/Hannah Svensson gig on Sunday night in Täby, Stockholm. The concert – organised by Jano (an acronym for Jazzklubb Nordost) – received what can only be described as a rapturous review from the local news website, Täby Allehanda (or read it as a PDF here: Täby 8 Feb 15). Supported by the great Hans Backenroth on bass and groovy Zoltan Csörsz on drums, Jan played with what the reviewer calls “precision and brilliance”, while the warmth of Hannah’s singing would have “softened iron railings”. It was “a night to remember” concludes Täby Allehanda; “as good as it gets”.
9 February 2015: Sinatra meets Bach
We’ve now found Sydsvenskan‘s review of the first Come Fly With Us concert in Malmö on 5 February. Among compliments about all the artists’ performances, reviewer Alexander Agrell remarks (in Swedish) that Jan’s “left hand couldn’t have worked better or more efficiently”. Alexander also highlights the improvised, Bach-style fugue introduction to Jan’s solo version of Fly me to the moon, which “gave everybody a chance to ‘guess the song'”. You can read the full review here on Sydsvenskan’s website.
6 February 2015: A beautiful start
A quick email from Jan: “The first concert of the Sinatra tour, Come Fly With Us [see the Updates below], went really beautifully. Great playing on all sides, and then a fine review of the gig by Alexander Agrell in Sydsvenskan. Tonight we’re looking forward to our second show at the Palladium in Malmö. It’s a wonderful place for music, and the theatre’s 15-year old Steinway D is in very good shape!” (In case you’re wondering, a Steinway D, like the one in our picture, is a concert grand – the ‘mother of all pianos’.) We haven’t got a paper copy of the review Jan mentions, so keep an eye on Sydsvenksan’s website, where it might appear in the next day or so.