On southern Sweden’s Baltic coast, the venerable town of Ystad is about to launch the 2018 edition of the festival that has made the medieval village, now a town of 29,00, a prime summer music destination in Europe. Officially named the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival, it has been notable for a cross-section of top Scandinavian groups alternating with well-known musicians from the US and elsewhere. This year’s visiting American attractions will include pianist Monty Alexander and his trio; The Manhattan Transfer, a vocal group successful for nearly half a century; and Cecile McLorin Salvant, a Grammy-winning singer often rated by critics as a successor to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. The New York-based Israeli trumpeter Avishai Cohen will be a soloist with the formidable Bohuslän Big Band, a frequent audience favorite at Ystad.
From elsewhere in Europe, trumpeter and flugelhornist Paolo Fresu will return to Ystad leading a quartet of his fellow Italians. The festival artistic director, pianist Jan Lundgren, will again appear with trombonist Nils Landgren and an assortment of “friends” that will include Fresu, the Finnish alto saxophonist Juka Perko and a 15-piece string section.
Circumstances have made it impossible for me to be in Ystad, the first time in several years that I will have missed a festival to which I always look forward. I shall hope that things work out better in 2019. If you would like to learn more about this year’s Ystad Festival, click here to find the complete 2018 lineup.
In the meantime, let’s ask Nils Landgren to play a beloved traditional Swedish song that is almost certain to be performed by someone in Ystad, although possibly not quite like this—unless that someone is Landgren.
Of course, that is what many of us know as “Dear Old Stockholm.” For more concerning the song and its history, see this Rifftides entry about a man who helped make it famous.