239

Jan Lundgren: Magnum Mysterium

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Jan Lundgren: Magnum Mysterium A diverse artist who has demonstrated equal aplomb covering the Great American Songbook and traditional Swedish folk songs, Jan Lundgren's musical interests seem limitless in scope. Magnum Mysterium is the Swedish pianist's most ambitious record to date, where he tackles European renaissance sacred music in collaboration with the Gustaf Sjökvist Chamber Choir and bassist/cellist Lars Danielsson. As 2007 nears its close, Magnum Mysterium may well prove to be its most purely beautiful release, an album where lush choral music is married with contemporary improvisation that remains ever true to its source.



The concept is not exactly new—Norwegian saxophonist and the Hilliard Ensemble were the artists who, with the best-selling Officium (ECM, 1994) and follow-up Mnemosyne (ECM, 1999), broke new ground by joining two seemingly disparate traditions. But while Garbarek improvised freely over the unaltered renaissance choral music, here Lundgren and reedman Magnus Lindgren (who doesn't appear on the record) arrange this solemnly spiritual music for the inclusion of piano, keyboards, bass and cello. In many ways it's a more seamless integration where there's room for improvisation, to be sure, but where the premise itself is equally innovative.



Lundgren couldn't have picked a better partner in Danielsson, a bassist whose own body of work has included everything from the Nu Jazz of Mélange Bleu (ACT, 2006) and the intimate duets of Pasodoble (ACT, 2007) to his own marriage of orchestral music with improvisation on Libera Me (ACT, 2004). Here he's both subtle accompanist and sensitive soloist, haunting in his simplicity on the almost painfully beautiful "Kyrie, where Lundgren proves that even the sound of a gentle, chime-like electric piano can mesh naturally with soaring voices.



While there are the slightest hints of harmonies more closely associated with jazz here and there, what makes Magnum Myserium so successful is how well Lundgren and Danielsson migrate their clear improvisational prowess into an entirely different language—and with the attention to space and understatement that, like Garbarek and the Hilliards, make this an undeniable marriage of equals.



The drama is in the subtlety. A single voice introduces "Maria Magdalene Et Altera Maria, only to be fleshed out with additional voices and Lundgren's delicate combination of piano and synthesizer washes. Lundgren bows out, leaving the voices to complete the cycle, as the piece shifts into a simple bass ostinato that leaves Lundgren free to improvise elegantly, drawing the piece to a close.



The best improvisers respect context and honor the essence of the material. Lundgren and Danielsson may be capable of more muscular extemporization, but prove their worth here through a selfless approach to bringing together two traditions. Magnum Mysterium is an album of rare and singular beauty, a marriage where the two truly become the one.


Track Listing: Vinea Mea; Propheti Sibyllarum; Se Nel Partir Da Voi; Crux Fidelis; Kyrie; O quam gloriosum; Da pacem, Domine; Pastores dicite, quidnam vidistis?; Maria Magdalene Et Altera Maria; O Magnum Mysterium; Angelus Autem Domini Descendit.

Personnel: Jan Lundgren: grand piano, keyboards; Lars Danielsson: bass, cello; The Gustaf Sjkvist Chamber Choir.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ACT Music | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Ensam" CD/LP/Track Review Ensam
by Ian Patterson
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "We Two" CD/LP/Track Review We Two
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 28, 2016
Read "Music of Weather Report" CD/LP/Track Review Music of Weather Report
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 19, 2016
Read "Westering Home" CD/LP/Track Review Westering Home
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "Hera" CD/LP/Track Review Hera
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 25, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!