6 February 2015: Podcast discovery
We’ve been checking iTunes to see whether the release date for their download of Quietly There has changed (it hasn’t; 9 February is still the day). While scrolling down the Jan Lundgren ‘Results’ page, we spotted a podcast we hadn’t noticed before. It’s nine minutes of Jan talking and soloing, which was broadcast on the Paris-based radio station TSF Jazz last June. You can stream the entire podcast on iTunes if you don’t want to download it – although it’s free, so you may as well keep it for posterity. Jan opens the interview with a few words in French and then chats in English about JLT’s Flowers Of Sendai album. The second half of the podcast sees Jan playing Lush life, the Billy Strayhorn composition from the record. If you can tune out the ‘tinny’ ring to the piano, it’s a fun way to spend some spare minutes.
3 February 2015: Hurry up, or you’ll miss it
Sinatra dead seems to be as big a draw as he ever was alive. Hence a quick call from Jan yesterday evening to remind anyone who’s planning to catch one of his Come Fly With Us gigs (click the link for details) to hurry up and book their tickets. There are only a few seats left at both the Malmö performances, none at all in Stockholm or Kristianstad, while Ystad is also sold out. Availability at the Växjö and Helsingborg dates appears to be OK, but that’s probably not going to last long either.
1 February 2015: Play it again, Jan
Last night’s Memories of Bengt Hallberg broadcast on SVT2 was phenomenal. If you didn’t manage to catch the programme, or if you’d like to see it again (and who wouldn’t?), it’s available on SVT Play here until 2 March. We’re not sure whether viewers outside Sweden will be able to access the video through this app, but it certainly works for us here in Stockholm. Have a go anyway, even if you’re reading this in another country. Or ask someone who understands the internet to see if they can track down the broadcast for you by some other means. It’ll be well worth it.
31 January 2015: Memories of Bengt
Good news for television viewers in Sweden. Sveriges Television, the national broadcaster, is showing a Bengt Hallberg memorial concert on its SVT2 channel tonight at 2000. Bengt was booked to perform at the March 2014 gig, but died the previous July. So Jan took his place at the piano in what became one of several moving tributes to Hallberg. As you can see from our newspaper cutting, the concert (in Gothenburg) features a roll-call of great Swedish jazz artists who, in addition to Jan, include Georg Riedel, Jan Allan, Erik Norström and the Bohuslän Big Band. If you can’t get Swedish television signals, scoot around SVT2’s website or SVT Play app, where the concert should also be available.
30 January 2015: From California to Japan
FoJL loves Japan, and we know that Jan does too. So it was a nice surprise to get an email last night from our friend in Los Angeles, Eastwind Import’s Hajime Sato (see the 16 January Update below), with a sneak preview of the ‘Best Jazz Albums of 2014’ column he’s written for the next edition of Jazz Critique (aka Jazz Hihyo), which is Japan’s oldest jazz magazine. Hajime picks five CDs, plus another five LPs, that stood out for him among the many thousands of jazz releases last year. And what’s the third CD he recommends? It’s JLT’s Flowers Of Sendai, which you can just about see towards the right of the black & white screenshot. Jazz Critique will be understandably annoyed with us if we provide a PDF of the article, since the edition it will appear in is still at the proofing stage. But it’s good to know that Jan’s work is getting coverage in Japan. And, because FoJL doesn’t speak the language, we’d like to say a big thank you to Hajime for bringing this fun article to our attention.
29 January 2015: Jarasum revisited
We just discovered this great video of the Jan Lundgren Trio performing with Grégoire Maret at the 2014 Jarasum International Jazz Festival in Korea (the details are in various Updates from last September and October). It’s unusual, isn’t it, actually to see Jan playing a Fender Rhodes in concert. The video’s got fine picture quality, good sound, and nice close-ups of Jan and the others doing what they do best. The man on drums, by the way, is Magnus Öström (that’s right – the ex-EST drummer) and, of course, it’s the Jive Master himself, Mattias Svensson, on bass. The song they’re performing is Velas, which was written by the Brazilian composer, Ivan Lin, as a tribute to Toots Thielemans.
28 January 2015: Some new reviews
We found a few more reviews of Quietly There this morning. UK website Marlbank observes that “Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren [is] only just able to restrain himself” (we’re not quite sure what that means, but we’re assuming it’s a compliment); Oslo-based Salt Peanuts talks about Jan’s “engaging” and “delicate” piano; Dusty Groove in Chicago highlights “the easygoing groove led by pianist Jan Lundgren”; and Swedish site DIG Jazz hails Jan’s contribution to Quietly There as “incredibly tasteful and imaginative”.
27 January 2015: French egalitarianism – and a beautiful Steinway
We like to get our facts straight here at FoJL. So we’re very grateful to Martine Croce of Instant Pluriel, Jan’s booking agent in France, for the following clarification, which just popped into our mailbox, concerning Jan’s solo gig last Friday in Trélazé (see the 25 January Update below). The performance wasn’t free because of a publicity drive, Martine tells us. It’s because the town’s director of cultural affairs, Claude-Henri Selles, has a policy of offering high quality, free concerts which everyone can attend, and especially those without the resources to pay for a ticket. He also sees performances like Jan’s as educational virtues, opening up jazz and classical music to a younger audience. All of which is great if you’re a municipal taxpayer – and even better if you’re not. And then we got a second email from Jan: “I should add that I played in Trélazé on one of the best Steinways I’ve ever used!”. Er, so that’s two good reasons why FoJL is now kicking itself about not going to the gig…
27 January 2015: Subtlely inspired
The first review is in of Quietly There, Jan’s new Johnny Mandel collaboration with US tenor saxophonist Harry Allen, plus Hans Backenroth on bass and Kristian Leth on drums. And it’s a good one – four stars. Referring to Jan as “a Swedish pianist of infinite subtlety” (well, there are a lot worse things to be called…), The Guardian‘s Dave Gelly cites two tracks in particular which “evoke really inspired performances”. You can find out what they are by reading his short review here.
25 January 2015: Free publicity
Question: when is a concert poster not a concert poster? Answer: when it’s a super-sized, TV-style hoarding. Like the one in our photo, in fact, advertising Jan’s solo gig on Friday night in the French town of Trélazé – which is actually part of the much larger conurbation of Angers (hence the sign in the picture’s foreground). The more eagle-eyed of you might notice the word “gratuit” in the advert. What? A free Jan Lundgren concert?! “The performance was part of a publicity campaign for the area” Jan explained in a quick debrief with FoJL yesterday evening. “A very nice concert in a smallish theatre.” And a lucky bonus for the fortunate burghers of Angers.
23 January 2015: On the road again
A message arrived from Jan this morning, who’s on the road in Belgium and France: “The gigs are going very well. Last night Richard Galliano, Paolo Fresu and I performed our first Mare Nostrum concert for almost a year. We played the big hall at Flagey as part of the Brussels Jazz Festival. It had been sold out for several weeks”. The Belgian gig was preceded on Wednesday evening by a solo performance in Paris and, tonight, Jan’s back in France to solo again at Trélazé, which is a town in the Loire region. There’ll be a few days’ rest, and then there’s a duo performance with guitarist Ulf Wakenius in Lund, Sweden, on 30 January, followed from 5 February by the start (in Malmö) of the long-awaited Come Fly With Us Sinatra celebration tour of Sweden and Denmark. “I’m really looking forward to it” says Jan.
16 January 2015: Lundgren label labyrinth
Jan’s manager, René Hess, has helpfully emailed FoJL to point out that, although Bee Jazz is no longer with us, CDs of both Man In The Fog and Flowers Of Sendai are still being pressed and distributed by the Japanese label AGATE (see our 20 October 2014 Update). We know that those two little juxtaposed words “Japanese” and “import” tend to strike terror into the hearts of all but the wealthiest record buyers, but it’s good to hear that these albums remain in production – even if you do have to get them from Japan. And if your friendly neighbourhood record shop doesn’t stock or can’t order Japanese imports, our very good Friend of Jan Lundgren, Hajime Sato at Eastwind Import in Los Angeles, currently has the AGATE print of Flowers for mail order at the far-from-outrageous price of $29.00 (excluding postage).
While we’re on this subject, we thought you might like to know that the new Harry Allen/Jan Lundgren Quartet album of Johnny Mandel songs, Quietly There, will be available to buy as a download at iTunes from 9 February. You can also pre-order it now.
11 January 2015: No news is good news… mostly
FoJL had a new year’s catch-up with Jan yesterday. There weren’t any concerts over the Christmas period, so what’s he been up to? “Preparing” says a cheerful Jan. “There are a lot of gigs coming up, starting with a solo appearance in Paris on 21 January, followed in quick succession by a performance with Fresu and Galliano in Belgium, another solo gig in France and a one-off with Ulf Wakenius in Sweden. And then the Come Fly With Us Sinatra celebration tour starts [see the 8 and 16 December Updates below]. They all require rehearsals and, as they say, ‘practice, practice, practice’.”
Jan’s also been preparing for a new recording – his first fully-fledged project as leader for ACT since he rejoined the label last autumn. “I can’t discuss any details at the moment” Jan tells us conspiratorially. “But what I can say is that the focus is very much on original compositions which, obviously, I need some time to write…” So it’s great news that yet another Jan Lundgren album is in careful gestation.
And then we got the not-so-great news that Bee Jazz, the French label that released Man In The Fog (2013) and Flowers Of Sendai (2014), went out of business at some point during the holiday period. This means that no new CDs will be pressed and, just as alarming, both recordings have disappeared as downloads at iTunes. “It’s too early to know whether another label will reissue these albums” Jan explains. “Therefore, if you haven’t got these two recordings and you’ve been putting off buying those spare CDs sitting in your local record store, I suggest you do it really soon. Because it could be a long time before either album resurfaces.”
Go to the Archive page for previous Updates.