In reviewing an earlier album by Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren ( Bird of Passage,
Four Leaf Clover), I wrote that "he has, among other things, exquisite taste, marvelous touch, flawless technique, an attentive ear, power to spare... and a bounteous wellspring of creative ideas." Listeners should be pleased to learn that nothing has changed.
Well, one thing has changedthe music itself. Rather than playing mostly his own compositions, as he did on Passage and the more recent For Listeners Only (Sittel 9273), or Swedish folk music, as on Landscapes (Sittel 9297), Lundgren has chosen to reprise songs by the renowned Broadway/Hollywood tunesmith Jule Styne whose body of work includes such memorable themes as "Make Someone Happy," "People," "The Party's Over," "Time After Time" and many others. Lundgren has also enlarged the trio on half a dozen numbers, inviting vocalists Cæcelie Norby ("Make Someone Happy," "The Party's Over") and Mark Murphy ("What Makes the Sunset," "The Things We Did Last Summer") and tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander ("It's You or No One," "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry") to help enliven the session. Why he found it necessary to do so is anyone's guess, but Alexander's fiery commentary is welcome in any framework, no questions asked, and he burns some serious rubber on "It's You or No One."
The trio sans guests opens with "You Say You Care" and "People," closes with "Time After Time" and "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and is heard as well on "Dance Only with Me." Lundgren, bassist Mattias Svensson and drummer Morten Lund are fastened at the hips, Lundgren solos astutely on every number, and Svensson and Lund respond emphatically whenever their names are called. While Norby and Murphy are, to me, the shaky links in the chain, those who appreciate vocals more than I may see that quite differently.
In any event, Lundgren, his capable colleagues and Alexander's impassioned tenor make the album well worth one's consideration, as do the wonderful songs by the great Jule Styne.
Personnel: Jan Lundgren, piano; Mattias Svensson, bass; Morten Lund, drums. Special guests -- Eric Alexander, tenor saxophone; Mark Murphy, C