The Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival is into its third full day. The concerts are scheduled so tightly that this is my first chance to break away to post a report. The weather in southern Sweden has alternated between rain, overcast skies and sunshine. During a break in the clouds, the courtyard of the ancient Per Helsas Gård overflowed with festival patrons listening to the Norbotten Big Band and their guest Jan Allan. At 80, Allan continues as one of Sweden’s most honored jazz artists. The ease and lyricism of his work with the Norbotten, under the direction of Joakim Milder, seemed as fresh as when he came to prominence in the 1950s playing with other Swedish jazz stars including Lars Gullin, Bengt Hallberg and Rolf Billberg. Later he also worked with visiting American musicians, among them saxophonist Lee Konitz and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band.
Framed in half timbers, the courtyard walls of farm buildings hundreds of years old echoed Allan’s solos. The arrangements for the Norbotten, many of which Allan wrote, reflected the restraint, logic and surprise that also characterize his trumpet improvisations. The festival was off to a fine start.
Please stay with Rifftides for reports on performances by Jan Lundgren, several emerging and veteran European musicans, Diane Reeves, Robert Glasper, Dave Holland, Kenny Barron, the duo of guitarist Guinga and vocalist Maria Joao, and the Rad Trads among many, many others.
I’m off to the next concert.