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Another superlative outing by Sweden’s most accomplished young post–bop pianist, Jan Lundgren, and his clairvoyant sidekicks, bassist Mattias Svensson and drummer Rasmus Kihlberg. Lundgren, who is of course almost unknown here in the States, displays the delicate touch, flawless technique, clarity of tone, grasp of dynamics, depth of awareness and enormous improvisatory acumen that this reviewer associates with such acclaimed contemporary giants as Kenny Barron, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan or the late Michel Petrucciani, to name only a few. Lundgren may not have overtaken them yet, but he’s gaining ground with each new album, and For Listeners Only is another impressive milepost on that road. Lundgren receives an emphatic endorsement in the liner notes from Ira Gitler who writes, among other things, that the young Swede “does not perform by rote nor attempt to be a human museum. Rather, he takes inspiration from past greats [and some, we should add, who are still with us] and interprets this legacy in an informed, honest and personal way. He creates music for mind and soul and makes me feel good.” Me too, Ira. The feel–good vibes surface almost immediately on the sunny opener, “Do It Yourself,” on which Lundgren dances nimbly while Svensson and Kihlberg chop some serious wood behind him. The upbeat mood continues through three charming waltzes (“The Expatriate,” “For Phillip,” “For Adlon”), two even–tempered bossas (“A Touch of You,” “Time to Leave Again”), a second cooker (“The Time Is Now”), a soulful “Belgian Blues” and the dreamy finale, “Avenue de Wagram” which Lundgren plays unaccompanied. When Svensson and Kihlberg are on board, every move that Lundgren makes, no matter how impulsive or subtle, is not only underlined but amplified, an advantage of having worked as a trio for half a dozen years. The only drawback, if one can call it that, lies in the album’s 47:10 playing time. A previous CD, Swedish Standards, earned the trio a Golden Disc Award for best Swedish Jazz album of 1997, and it looks from here as though Lundgren and his able–bodied mates could be in line for another.
Contact:Sittel Records, Box 2070, SE–750, Uppsala, Sweden (www.sittel.se).
Track Listing: Do It Yourself; The Expatriate; Waltz for Phillip; The Time Is Now; A Touch of You; Waltz for Adlon; Belgian Blues; Time to Leave Again; Avenue de Wagram (47:10).
Personnel: Jan Lundgren, piano; Mattias Svensson, bass; Rasmus Kihlberg, drums.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!