Full disclosure: I wrote a section of the liner notes for a new compilation album by pianist Jan Lundgren. To assure critical objectivity, the senior Rifftides staff asked the veteran Swedish music journalist Jan Olsson to review the CD. Mr. Olsson’s review appears on the Swedish website DIG. We thank him and DIG for permission to post his work, and for his translation into English.
Jan Lundgren: A Retrospective (Fresh Sound)
Besides some CDs and LPs produced in Sweden and Japan, our own master pianist Jan Lundgren has recorded sixteen albums – nine of them under his own name – on the superb and very ambitious Spanish Fresh Sound label, today distributed all over the world. All but one were produced in Los Angeles by the legendary Dick Bank. The exception, Stockholm Get-Together from 1994, was produced by Jan himself.
Mr. Bank has now put together an excellent and varied Lundgren compilation. He has chosen twelve selections from ten of his own Fresh Sound productions, recorded between 1995 and 2003, and he presents them chronologically. He lets us listen to Jan entirely on his own, with his American trios and together with jazz celebrities like Bill Perkins, Conte Candoli, Herb Geller, Andy Martin and, last but not least, Arne Domnérus and Pete Jolly.
To mention any particular selections seems unnecessary since all original albums from which Mr. Bank has made his choices have already been reviewed. But the duo version of “Barney Goin´ Easy”, or “I´m Checkin´ Out Go´om Bye” as the Ellington/Strayhorn composition is also named, with Domnérus on clarinet is really something very special. It is drawn from Dompan!, the album that Arne himself considered his very best ever. The playful collaboration with Jolly is also something that will make you shout with joy— if you love high-quality piano jazz.
The bassists and drummers who enrich the album—in particular the radar pair of Chuck Berghofer and Joe La Barbera—are also well worth praising. And so is Jim Mooney, who is responsible for most of the excellent sound quality. He is a member of the same league as his east coast counterpart Rudy Van Gelder. Lots of roses, also, go to the man with the great ideas, a perpetual preserver of high quality and good taste, Mr. Dick Bank. He is like a manager in the highest Spanish soccer division who knows not only the exact capacity of every player but also how to bring it forth. But the most praise goes, of course, to Jan Lundgren, who today is on the same level as his great Swedish forerunners and sources of inspiration, Jan Johansson and Bengt Hallberg.
Finally: The CD booklet and liner notes to Dick Bank´s albums are always something very special with lots of high-quality and interesting information. This time the authors are Doug Ramsey, Dick Bank and— Jan Lundgren. If you don´t own most of Jan´s Fresh Sound albums already, I think that A Retrospective is, for every jazz piano fan, an almost necessary investigation.
Mr. Olsson has been one of Sweden’s most respected journalists for more than fifty years. He has contributed to Orkester Journalen and the Swedish-Danish magazine Jazz Stage. For a quarter of a century he was a regular host on Swedish Radio and on a number of television specials.