Pianist Jan Lundgren is a fine example of a classically-trained European musician with a strong empathy with mainstream jazz. Potsdamer Platz is, in turn, a fine example of Lundgren's ability to compose fresh-sounding and often beautiful tunes, allied to a talented quartet of players who know just how to bring the pianist's ideas to life.
The all-Scandinavian band is terrificFinnish saxophonist Jukka Perko, Danish drummer Morten Lund and Lundgren's fellow Swede Dan Berglund on bass. The quartet decamped to Germany to record: Hansa Studio is situated on the titular Berlin square.
There's a jauntiness to tunes like "Twelve Tone Rag" (where some of Lundgren's phrasing could be mistaken for Mose Allison's) and the catchy "Potsdamer Platz"which opens proceedings in an upbeat and positive fashion. "Dance Of Masja" ups the jauntiness quotient: a fast tempo, a rolling rhythm and some driving percussion add up to a great 6' 25" of music. By contrast, "No. 9" and "Never Too Late" display a more vulnerable and melancholy side to Lundgren's writing (and to the quartet's playing). Both tunes are quite beautiful.
"Lycklig Resa" might just be the coolest track of the year. Effortless waltz-time swing, a graceful melody, Perko's mellow saxophone all generate a nostalgic, early-60s mood. Dudley Moore, Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond spring readily to mind alongside visions of E-type Jags, sharp suits and a touch of brylcreem. Lundgren wrote it as a tribute to Jan Johansson, Sweden's star jazz pianist of the '60s, and it certainly fits that bill.
Potsdamer Platz; No. 9; Lycklig Resa; Bullet Train; The Poet; Never Too Late;
Twelve Tone Rag; Song For Jörgen; Dance Of Masja; On The Banks Of The Seine;
Jan Lundgren: piano; Jukka Perko: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Dan
Berglund: bass; Morten Lund: drums.