Nils Landgren/Esbjorn Svensson: Swedish Folk Modern (2004)
The program is mostly original material, co-written by the duo; while it demonstrates a rich diversity of sources, the influence of Swedish music is clearly the dominant force; from the childlike naivety of “Hymn: Morgon Mellan Fjellan” to the modern impressionism of Alfven’s “Midsommarvaka from Swedish Rhapsody No. 1.”
Svensson is the more well-known of the two, but he reveals a different side to his playing by stepping away from the jazz-meets-pop sensibility of his E.S.T. group. Stripped of the comfort zone of a rhythm section, Svensson demonstrates that he is a strong accompanist; spare and poignant on “Visa fran Leksand,” or down-and-funky on “Gardebylaten.”
Landgren has yet to reach the same kind of international stature, but through a diversity of recordings from funk to big band he has demonstrated solid abilities as a performer, composer and arranger. Like Yves Robert and Gianluca Petrella he makes a strong case for the trombone as in instrument of emotive depth. With a tone that is lush and never brash, he can be tender on “Vaggvisa,” or boisterous on “Lapp-Nils Polska,” where he marries blue bebop lines with a lapsed polka sensibility. For this reissue ACT has also included a bonus live version of the latter track, which gives both players a chance to stretch out and build things to a fever pitch; a bit of an achievement for such a spare instrumental duo.
The liner notes purport jazz as “the musical language that fulfills the vision of a modern society of people getting together to create, work and communicate by searching for one common goal: freedom of the individual with a group of equals.” The time has truly passed for people to associate jazz with any one ethnic musical root; it is truly a world music that subsumes a rich tapestry of influences into a larger whole. Swedish Folk Modern is as strong an argument as any to support that belief.
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Track Listing: Hornlat; Vallat fran Jamtland; Lapp-Nils Polska; Free Esbjorn; Midsommarvaka from Swedish Rhapsody No. 1; Hymn: Morgon Mellan Fjallen; Halling; The Winters Tale (Epilogue); Vallat fran Harjedalen; Gardebylaten; Visa fran Leksand; Vaggvisa; Free Nils; Lapps-Nils Polska (live bonus track)
Personnel: Nils Landgren (trombone), Esbjorn Svensson (piano).
Record Label: ACT Music
Style: Modern Jazz