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Lars Jansson: Just This

Chris Mosey By

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Swedish pianist/composer Lars Jansson is a Zen Buddhist, concerned primarily with being in the moment. There can be difficulties—"To experience and accept all that happens in our lives is no easy matter," says Jansson. "It takes practice and an open mind (beginner's mind) to ignore expectations and preconceived attitudes and completely immerse oneself in the present as it unfolds."

There are two songs on Just This that deal with this problem: the title track and "No Purpose." The former is a gentle, lilting tune that slowly becomes more complicated, with bassist Thomas Fonnesbaek returning it to its theme. Here Jansson takes over, ending the number succinctly, perhaps even a trifle sharply. "No Purpose" is simpler, built on a couple of arpeggios and containing faint echoes of other Jansson compositions. As the song unfolds it is as if the thought processes of the author can be heard.

"Pure Sensation," says Jansson, is a "blues and groove-inspired composition." "I practiced different piano sequences and patterns, out of which this theme was born," he continues. Then comes "Waltz For Bill," dedicated to—who else?—Bill Evans, an early influence. Jansson first played it with a big band but, bearing in mind its subject matter, it is surely better suited as a trio piece.

"Receiving" is a gently swinging, elegant, almost Ellingtonian number—"It's great to be able to give but being able to receive is also an art," says Jansson. "Bohuslän" pays tribute to the area of southern Sweden where he has lived with his family for most of his life. It's a new version of a number written 30 years ago. "Mustapha" is a cheerful ditty for his car mechanic—"I hope I can become just as good at playing the piano as he is at repairing cars," says Jansson.

"Intimate Talk" describes an imagined conversation between a guru and his disciple, while "Cherished" is a tune Jansson had forgotten until Swedish trumpeter Peter Asplund recently presented him with a transcription he made in 1985.

The jaunty "Turn The Whole Thing Upside-Down" is dedicated to Californian viticulturist Manfred Krankl and his Sine Qua Non wine, which Jansson (and others lucky enough to be able to get hold of it) claims to be on a level with the world's greatest wines. "When I taste it, I am moved to tears," says the maestro.

The closing number is based on a book—yes, a book—by psychologist Erich Fromm, To Have Or To Be" (Harper & Row, 1976), on how to find a balance between the things we do, which Jansson lists as "career, activities, the possessions we accumulate," and what we are: "non-doing, rest, reflection, meditation, self-awareness."

Like everything recorded by Jansson, this is thinking man's music, but with good humor never far away.

Track Listing: Just This; Pure Sensation; Waltz For Bill; Receiving; Bohuslän; Mustapha; Intimate Talk; Cherished; Turn The Whole Thing Upside Down; No Purpose; Safe Trip; Anatta; To Have Or To Be.

Personnel: Lars Jansson: piano; Thomas Fonnesbaek: bass; Paul Svanberg: drums.

Title: Just This | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Storyville Records


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