Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Lina Nyberg: The Clouds


Lina Nyberg: The Clouds


View read count
Lina Nyberg: The Clouds
In a career spanning almost three decades—her first release, Close (Prophone), with Esbjorn Svensson, dates from 1993— vocalist, composer and arranger Lina Nyberg has worked with many of the finest musicians in the Swedish jazz scene to create a truly formidable body of work. Nineteen albums later, her creativity shows no signs of abating. In fact, with The Clouds, a project featuring a tentet of first-rank colleagues, Nyberg is poised to reinforce her place at the vanguard of chance-taking European jazz musicians.

Nyberg's prior offering, Terrestrial (Hoob, 2018), a two-CD release with the NorrlandsOperan Symphony Orchestra, was the third installment in a trilogy exploring various facets of humanity's relationship with the planet. While possessing more modest conceptual aims, The Clouds may be all the more effective for its more concentrated potency. The album's nine tracks are ideal vehicles not only for Nyberg's usual bold vocal delivery, but just as important, they make splendid use of the fantastic musicians joining her. Nyberg's regular band is here: pianist Cecilia Persson, guitarist David Stackenäs, bassist Josef Kallerdahl and drummer Peter Danemo provide the rock-solid foundation to Nyberg's music that they have forged for years. But the additional members of the group are especially well-chosen, with fellow Swedes Karin Hammar (trombone), Per Texas Johansson (flute) and Fredrik Ljungkvist (clarinet) joining Susana Santos Silva (trumpet) and Alberto Pinton (bass clarinet)—the latter two the only musicians on the album not hailing from Sweden, but no matter, as their contributions here are invaluable.

Accompanied by Sweden's Bohuslän Big Band for the album's opener, "The Clouds," Nyberg uses fragments of Virginia Woolf's writings as the backbone of a ten-minute piece that is by turns moody and brash. It has all the characteristics of Nyberg's vocal style: an earnest hopefulness mixed with a bit of insouciance and a good deal of self-assertion. The additional horns on offer from the Bohusläm ensemble lend the track an almost orchestral sweep, and abundant open space leavens the piece's surging intensity.

The subsequent tracks are even better. "The Advisor" starts with a traditional swing feel, Nyberg's saucy quips taking issue with those providing unwanted advice, and it's a tight and bouncy arrangement, until the band gets room to loosen the reins a bit, with Hammar's fleet trombone solo seeming to ignite the other horns behind her. It's a crackling arrangement, a testament to Nyberg's ability to craft a fine mid-sized band chart. And for sheer show-stopping power, witness "Std. Stop," an up-tempo burner, where Santos Silva's fierce trumpet is a stunning presence, both in shadowing Nyberg's vocals and in unleashing what may be the most memorable solo on the record, moving from razor-sharp precision to atonal smears, while the rest of the band somehow manages to match her intensity.

But Santos Silva isn't alone in getting an opportunity to step out front. Nyberg's rumination on her father's death and legacy, "The Bone Barrow Gardens," is a searching eight-minute exploration that begins reflectively but soon picks up the pace under a dynamically expressive clarinet solo from Ljungkvist, and not to be outdone is Alberto Pinton, whose sinuous bass clarinet enlivens the jaunty "Vancouver." Each of Nyberg's pieces is crafted to draw from the distinctive personalities and strengths of each musician. Indeed, it's easy at times to forget that this is a "vocal album," so cohesively are these instrumentalists conjoined to Nyberg's own musicianship. The finest example may be the eleven-minute "Circle Song," built around a catchy ostinato riff that expertly blends Nyberg's abstract musings with superb ensenble writing, allowing the band to take flight collectively.

Both innovative and highly engaging, The Clouds is one of Nyberg's best recordings yet. No one would be surprised if she has another twenty still to come.

Track Listing

The Clouds; Introduction: (The Advisor); The Advisor; Std. Stop; Humankind; The Bone Marrow Gardens; Vancouver; The Circle Song; Cloud Gazing.


Additional Instrumentation

Bohuslän Big Band (1, 9)

Album information

Title: The Clouds | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Hoob Records

< Previous
Arctic Riff



Support All About Jazz

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

How You Can Help

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Linda Sikhakhane
To March Is To Love
Janel Leppin, Ensemble Volcanic Ash
Chicken Shit Bingo
Peter Brötzmann & Paal Nilssen-Love
From Me To You
Petra Van Nuis and Dennis Luxion


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.