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by Mark Corroto
Funny how listening to the five-CD Jazzbox by free jazz drummer Sven-Åke Johansson may remind you of the British punk rock band The Clash's first hit single Train In Vain" (1980). Like Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, Johansson's career has been one that has worked to challenge the language of American music. In The Clash's case, it was American pop and disco. For Johansson and his European colleagues (Peter Brotzmann, Manfred Schoof, Peter Kowald, and Alexander von Schlippenbach) it was ...read more
by Mark Corroto
Part performance piece, part free improvisation, Die Harke und der Spaten ("The Rake and the Spade") is a musical stage play composed by Swedish jazz legend Sven-Åke Johansson. This recording, made in Malmö, Sweden in 1998, features a Who's Who of European improvisers and proponents of free jazz--a European free jazz that distinguishes itself from American music.Johansson was there at the beginning of the European free scene, recording with founding fathers Peter Brötzmann, Alexander Von Schlippenbach, and Manfred ...read more
by Glenn Astarita
The musical implications portrayed here, seemingly hearken back to drummer, Sven-Ake Johansson’s flirtations with mechanistic noise music, most notably “Concerto for 12 tractors” and a concerto for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. With that notion in mind, the trio of trumpeter, Axel Dorner, Johansson and pianoharpist (a stripped down piano sans keys) Andrea Neumann engage in some unorthodox banter on this most interesting production. Furthermore, all of these pieces are untitled and categorized in numerical order while many of the passages feature, Dorner ...read more
by Glenn Astarita
Drummer Sven-Ake Johansson proclaims, “The compositions and improvisations in my quintet represent, stylistically speaking, a period of free jazz, which may, at first sight, recall the Sixties. On Six Little Pieces For Quintet, the drummer, armed with his 60’s Slingerland kit, shoots for the stars with these invigorating pieces along with band-mates who counteract the leader’s throbbing pulse, sweeping press rolls and gyrating rhythms via simply stated choruses and fierce soloing.
Johansson and co. admirably seize the spirit of those ...read more
by AAJ Staff
Solo free improv drum recordings tend to send most jazz fans scurrying for cover. But for the bold, there are some sweet exceptions. Sven-Åke Johansson's 1972 record Schlingerland presents just the man and his drum set, and it's a fascinating listen. Johansson seems intent on exploring the polyrhythmic possibilities of his kit, building up percolating rhythms and then subtly altering them over time. A lot of this music embodies aspects of the West African drumming tradition: Johansson overlays asymmetric drum ...read more
by Derek Taylor
Johansson is a musician largely lost on American jazz audiences. Though he was a seminal force on Peter Brötzmann’s legendary Machine Gun (fmp) and collaborated on various occasions with pianist Alexander von Schilippenbach in the 1970s his discography has been something of a recondite affair, revealed only to those musical archeologists willing to dig. In like fashion, this album, originally self-produced and release, had an initial pressing of only several hundred copies making it’s rarity fit well into the rubric ...read more