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Jan Lundgren / Bengt Hallberg: Back 2 Back (2012)

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Jan Lundgren / Bengt Hallberg: Back 2 Back An historic meeting of two giants of modern jazz in Sweden. Bengt Hallberg, born 1932, helped to found the idiom via his work with alto saxophonist Arne Domnerus
Arne Domnerus
Arne Domnerus
1924 - 2008
reeds
in the 1950s and attracted international attention by recording with such US legends as Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
and Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
. Leonard Feather praised his "unique light-fingered style."

Jan Lundgren, born 1966, gigged with Domnérus and the great Swedish clarinetist Putte Wickman
Putte Wickman
b.1924
before going up against such visiting American luminaries as Johnny Griffin
Johnny Griffin
Johnny Griffin
1928 - 2008
sax, tenor
, Benny Golson
Benny Golson
Benny Golson
b.1929
sax, tenor
, Herb Geller
Herb Geller
Herb Geller
1928 - 2013
saxophone
and James Moody
James Moody
James Moody
1925 - 2010
reeds
. His albums for the local Sittel label—Swedish Standards (1997) and Landscapes (2003)—continued the tradition established by pianist Jan Johansson
Jan Johansson
1931 - 1968
piano
of wedding jazz techniques to Swedish folk music.

Producer Torgil Rosenberg brings Hallberg and Lundgren together for the first time on his small but important Volenza label. He placed them literally back to back, playing grand pianos in a Swedish Radio studio in Stockholm. It was Hallberg's first recording in nine years. Rosenberg describes the session as producing "seminal moments of musical communication."

It opens with "All Things," a playful right-hand piece based on the chord sequence of "All The Things You Are" in which the duo get to know one another musically. This is followed by "Autumn Walk," a lovely, melancholy ballad by Hallberg inspired by the first days of fall.

Next comes Lundgren's "The Longest Night," in which a dark arpeggio pattern broadens out into lush romanticism. It reflects his considerable knowledge of The Great American Songbook without ever being derivative.

Two originals by Hallberg follow. "Cheers" is a ragtime romp, followed by the swinging, "Lucky Corner," dedicated to a chance meeting between two people, the angularities of initial contact soon settling into gentle familiarity.

Things get heavy with the duo's treatment of Frans Schubert's "Ständchen, Opus 135," often used as a practice piece by budding pianists. Some liberties are taken but it's unlikely that the composer would have minded too much.

There's a salute to the swing era with "Sweet Georgia Brown," another look at ragtime in the shape of Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin
Scott Joplin
1868 - 1917
piano
's "Maple Leaf Rag," while Lundgren's involvement with French accordionist Richard Galliano
Richard Galliano
Richard Galliano
b.1950
accordion
no doubt accounts for the inclusion of Charles Trenet's whimsical "La Polka Du Roi."

Perhaps the two most interesting tracks as far as jazz lovers are concerned are kept until last: "Picasso Blues," a surrealist blues that mixes tempos and keys over a 12-bar format, followed by a freewheeling treatment of "Lover Man," immortalized in very different ways by Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
and Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
.


Track Listing: All Things; Autumn Walk; The Longest Night; Cheers; Lucky Corner; Ständchen, Opus 135; London 5:30; Sweet Georgia Brown; La Polka Du Roi; Maple Leaf Rag; Picasso Blues; Lover Man.

Personnel: Jan Lundgren: piano; Bengt Hallberg: piano.

Record Label: Volenza


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