October 10, 2015
Jan Lundgren A Retrospective (Fresh Sound FSR 5055 CD)
One of the finest pianists in jazz, Jan Lundgren has been very well served by this label, making nine albums as leader and appearing on another seven as sideman with some equally distinguished musicians. Stretching over two decades, these recordings have vividly displayed the pianist’s remarkable talent, which was exceptional at the start of this period in his career and has developed superbly. As this release’s title indicates, this compilation presents examples from some of these albums although they do not cover all the years – the first track is from 1995, the last from 2003. Among the leaders on the sessions heard here are Bill Perkins (tenor saxophone), Shorty George from Perk Plays Prez, Conte Candoli (trumpet), On Green Dolphin Street from Portrait Of A Count and Rockin’ Chair from Conte-nuity, Andy Martin (trombone), Doxy from It’s Fine . . . It’s Andy!. The original albums under Jan’s name are mainly as leader of a trio and tracks from these include Swedish Pastry, If You Could See Me Now, and Angel Eyes. He is also heard solo, Spring Isn’t Spring Anymore, and in duet with Herb Geller (soprano saxophone), Restless from You’re Looking At Me, and Arne Domnérus (clarinet), Barney Goin’ Easy from Dompan!. On two tracks, I’ve Never Been In Love Before and You Stepped Out Of A Dream, Jan’s trio is expanded to a quartet by fellow pianist Pete Jolly. On every track there are rewarding solos, all displaying inventive improvisation, imaginative flair and considerable technical accomplishment. Many of these fine solos are from the horns although, as expected, the spotlight is mainly on this remarkable pianist. It would be unfair not to mention the excellent support given by bassists Dave Carpenter, Chuck Berghofer and Tom Warrington and drummers Paul Kreibich and Joe La Barbera. This album is very warmly recommended and fans of Jan Lundgren will like it a lot while those who have yet to hear him will find it a very effective introduction to a master jazz piano player. It is encouraging to note that today Jan Lundgren is not yet fifty.
And speaking of elsewhere, a review of A Retrospective also appears in the September issue of Jazz Journal.
Romain Collin Press Enter (ACT 9583-2)
Highly regarded by contemporaries and also, importantly, by senior statesmen on today’s jazz scene, on this new release Romain Collin vividly displays his talent not only as performer but also as composer. Born in France, Romain has been based in America for several years and during this time has worked as leader and sideman, touring internationally with a band from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, and working with Mike Stern, John McLoughlin, Christian McBride, among many. Here, Romain leads a core trio rounded out by bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Kendrick Scott, who are joined on some tracks by vocalist Megan Rose, guitarist Grey McMurray, cellist Laura Mercalf, percussionist Mino Cinelu, and whistler Jean-Michel Pilc. All the artists here are skilled performers and individually and collectively present interesting and rewarding interpretations of a richly varied repertoire, most of which are Romain’s compositions. For these, he draws upon the rich tapestry of piano not only from the jazz world but also from wider fields. There is a pleasing hint of underlying folk on San Luis Obispo, rhythmic urgency with The Kids, and intriguing minimalism 99. Understandably, the spotlight is mostly upon Romain, but the work of Luques and Kendrick is a significant ingredient in the success of this very attractive album.
All albums are available from Amazon.