Nils Landgren & Jan Lundgren – Kristallen

There is this special beauty, the Scandinavian mythic touch on “Kristallen”, the new duo disc by Swedish trombonist and singer Nils Landgren and pianist Jan Lundgren, also from Sweden. “It’s very much a matter of leaving notes out, of making space”, Nils told me recently during an interview at his label’s offices. ACT Music is home to Landgren almost since the beginning and he’s been treated as the consummate artist there.

Nils Landgren & Jan Lundgren "Kristallen"

Both Nils and Jan started working together a few years ago in different projects and “Kristallen” marks the first time they recorded in a duo setting. The Swedish Traditional “Byssan Lull” starts out almost chamber-music like and then fades into a veritable blues piece before going back to the dark beauty of the melody. Both musicians always wanted to include a piece which more or less represents the place where they’re coming from. “Jan contributed his piece “Blekinge” to the album which is a part of Southern Sweden.” Other tracks, like Keith Jarrett’s “Country”, easily seem to fit into the overall sound and atmosphere of the album, which is oozing with warmth and coziness, but not in an excessive way.

Nils also includes some of his now signature singing, his slightly raspy voice on cuts like the Jimmy Webb classic “Didn’t We”. “I have recorded a Jimmy Webb song before, “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” (on the album “The Moon, The Stars & You”) and so I was checking out his oeuvre and came up with this particular song which just gelled into this project”. There are a couple of songs which remind me of the style and sound on his various, highly successful and pretty inspirational Christmas albums where Nils has always included some Scandinavian folk songs as well. “Hornlatar” is one of those tracks here. Trombone and piano work fantastically well together.

And we also get two Beatles songs, “I Will” and “Norwegian Wood”. While the former has never really made a lasting impression on me, the latter is still among my all-time favorite songs, thanks to a wonderful interpretation by the magnificent Carol Sloane. “I have always been a big fan of The Beatles“, says Nils, “and have all of their records at home, including all kinds of bootlegs and special editions. So it just seemed natural to include a couple of tracks here”. “Norwegian Wood” is performed as a breezily flowing swing cut, showcasing yet another color of piano/trombone interaction. The album closer is a beautiful rendition of “The Wedding”, a composition by the great Abdullah Ibrahim.

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