Following flights across the United States and the Atlantic Ocean and a gorgeous car ride from Copenhagen to Ystad, the Rifftides staff is looking out the window of our room in the storied Saltsjöbad hotel (opened in 1897) on southern Sweden’s Baltic shore. The customary collection of summer swimmers, tanners and loungers is on the beach, and the bike path is busy. I’ve shown you similar shots in the runups to previous Ystad Sweden Jazz Festivals, but this view is hard to resist.
The piano playing of Jan Johnsson (1931-1968) is also hard to resist. Johansson influenced jazz pianists everywhere. They included the young Jan Lundgren, who earned international acclaim and became the founding artistic director of this small medieval town’s world-class festival. The 2017 edition gets underway tomorrow evening and will run through Sunday. A couple of weeks ago we brought you video of Lundgren playing “Emigrantvisa” in a two-piano performance with the Czech pianist Emil Viklicky. Here is Jan Johansson playing that traditional Swedish song, also known as “They Sold Their Homestead.” His quartet mates in this 1961 Swedish Television appearance are Rune Gustafsson, guitar; Gunnar Johnsson, bass; and Ingvar Callmer, drums.
Several dozen musicians from Sweden, The United States, Japan and other parts of the world will play in Ystad this week. For their names and for the festival schedule, go here. If you come, please say hello.