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)
Andreas Koenig says
Doug, it is always enchanting to be blessed by your open eyes and ears for European Jazz. This is not very common among American Jazz buffs.
Hope to see you then next year at Jazz Baltica, which has now moved to the beautiful beaches of the Baltic Sea and where Nils Landgren is the curator, mc and ever present resident musician. Jan Lundgren, Lars Danielson and Michael Wollny are frequent visitors at this Festival, held late June in Timmendorfer Strand.
By the way: “Shadows in the rain” is a Song by Sting.
Doug Ramsey says
Always happy to learn.
Mattias Geigant says
Thank you Doug,
A typically eloquent description of the 4WD concert.
Actually, “She’s Always a Woman” and “Shadows in the Rain” are by Billy Joel and Sting, respectively.
Doug Ramsey says
Thanks, Mattias. Perhaps I should do a little woodsheding on popular singer-songwriters.
John Bolger says
I made it back home. It was great to finally meet you at Ystad last week and discuss all things Jazz and the various concerts we attended. Everything you ever described about this truly wonderful festival over many years is so true and more.
For those unfamiliar with Wolfgang Haffner I recommend listening to two of his recent albums on the ACT label – Kind Of Spain and Kind Of Cool.
This was the first time I have seen Michael Wollny live. In my opinion he may well be one of the finest Jazz pianists that people have never heard of.
I look forward to the rest of your reviews. Have a safe journey back home. See you next year.
(A final Ystad 2019 wrapup is in the works. Stay tuned. DR).