My optimistic promise that reports from the Ystad, Sweden, Jazz Festival would begin “in a few days” did not take into account the packed schedule of this festival. Determined to hear as much music as possible, I’ve been moving from one event to the next but not getting much news prepared for posting. At last, there is what passes for a break, so let’s address some of the high points of this busy and beautifully produced festival. To the left is the cover of the 2019 festival program brochure by artist Ardy Strüwer. This is the festival’s 10th year, by the way, and Strüwer’s 80th.
Over the years, the veteran Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren has packed Ystad festival concerts. His singing is as important to his popularity as his playing. Landgren was back this year with three colleagues in the relatively new quartet that he calls 4 Wheel Drive.
We see him above in the Ystad Theater with one of those sidemen, bassist Lars Danielsson. Danielsson’s interaction with Landgren, pianist Michael Wolny and drummer Wolfgang Haffner is an essential element. It helps make this band one of the tightest in contemporary music. When Landgren applies his, light, high, voice to ballads, he is affecting, as he was at the concert in his “She’s Only A Woman” and later in the set another of his compositions, “Shadows In The Rain.” He includes the latter in his new album with Danielsson, Wolny and Haffner.
Each of the members of 4 Wheel Drive contributed at least one composition to the concert. Haffner’s was “Lobito,” which included a Landgren solo that in three or four minutes put his formidable trombonism on full display while he and the rhythm section generated a joyous Latin spirit. Many of the evening’s high points, however, came in the quiet moments, confirming what jazz fans and sometimes jazz musicians tend to forget:
It is possible for quietness and showmanship to go hand in hand. This night, they did.
(©Marek Piechnat Photo)