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

Personnel: Jan Lundgren: grand piano, keyboards; Lars Danielsson: bass, cello; The Gustaf Sj

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


Shop

More Articles

Read Cross My Palm With Silver CD/LP/Track Review Cross My Palm With Silver
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read One Minute Later CD/LP/Track Review One Minute Later
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 28, 2017
Read JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800° CD/LP/Track Review JK's Kamer +50.92509° +03.84800°
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Ephimeral CD/LP/Track Review Ephimeral
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Fly or Die CD/LP/Track Review Fly or Die
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Caipi" CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Nomad" CD/LP/Track Review Nomad
by Nick Davies
Published: April 18, 2017
Read "That Feelin'" CD/LP/Track Review That Feelin'
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 7, 2016
Read "Rise Of Orion" CD/LP/Track Review Rise Of Orion
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "What's Wrong" CD/LP/Track Review What's Wrong
by John Sharpe
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Happiness!" CD/LP/Track Review Happiness!
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 3, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

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!