A Nordic Gil Evans?

Nordic Jazz Scene 


By Eric K. Williams – Special to the Danish Pioneer

(New York)—The new CD by Swedish percussionist, Per Tjernberg, may be one of the boldest Jazz programs to come out of Sweden in this, or any year. INSIDE INFORMATION: Music for 21-piece orchestra and smaller ensembles, is a masterpiece that brings together some of the most important movements in the Jazz genre from the 1950’s up to now. It may very well represent the best of Swedish, Nordic and, American Jazz sounds of the last half century, with the combination of experimental, electric and, acoustic tones. It also covers a wide range of influences that clearly touched Tjernberg’s musical evolution.

The Gothenburg-born Tjernberg says that American artists from Big Band leaders such as, Gil Evans and, Duke Ellington to Jazz and popular artists, like, Sweden’s late Jazz great, Jan Johanssen, and Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Bernt Rosengren and, Latin-Rock pop guitarist, Carlos Santana, all had a hand in the music rolling around in his head. Here on the first and, title track of ‘Inside Information,’ those influences are apparent from the outset.

The opening track hits the listener with influences ranging from Pharoah Sanders’ soft melodies from the landmark 1970’s album, Karma and, THEMBI, to the experimental and electric sounds of Miles Davis’ BITCHES BREW. It would be unfair to classify this collaboration as Sweden’s answer to the latter Miles Davis work. This is all original work and, all of the musicians present bring their own unique sound.

Trumpeter and musical collaborator, Ulf Adaker, is responsible for the orchestral arrangements on the opening track, including track four, JONI (Dedicated to the Folk-Rock writer and, vocalist Joni Mitchell) and, track five, titled, DEYA VIEW / DÉJÀ VU.  

Adaker’s musical direction on the above named orchestral tracks all vary and, take the genre’s musical threads from ‘straight ahead’ sounds to, instances of Latin rhythms. It’s all here, a kind of short history of Jazz music from both sides of the Atlantic and, all interspersed in the mix. This musical collaboration between Adaker and Tjernberg marks 25 years of friendship and, artist connection between the two men.

The influence of vibraphonist Lionel Hampton on the composition ‘JONI,’ cannot be missed. Yet, the theme of that song is clearly from modernized Swedish Folk music. The result is a work nothing short of breathless and original, even with the sound of harmonica added, that hints at the French wind specialist and player, Toots Thielman. His melodic riffs and rhythms are known the world over, when one discusses the influence of sounds out of the French Jazz scene.

Three of the six tracks contain the ‘smaller ensembles,’ TROUTFISHING IN AMERICA, ORINGSFISKE I AMERICA and GRONDAL. The latter two tracks feature solos by David Wilczewski, on flute; Bernt Rosengren and Tommy Koverhult, on tenor saxophone; and Klaus Jervors, on Trombone.  

The final track that closes the program is titled, GRONDAL (Green Valley.) It is an upbeat song that brings the listener along with happy and melodic rhythms. Tjernberg said that the inspiration of that song comes from his strolls along the shores of Lake Malaren, going all the way back to 1971. Bobo Stenson, on Grand Piano is joined by Rosengren, Koverbult and Wilczewski, on masterful solos here. Tjernberg is clearly having fun on the various percussion instruments at hand. He plays a variety of unusual instruments along the way, that include, a Wooden Slit Drum, cowbells, an African Kalimba and, drums of every kind.

INSIDE INFORMATION, the new CD by Per Tjernberg, represents some of the most exciting Jazz and musical innovations out of Scandinavia this year. It marks an important milestone on the world Jazz scene and, should not be missed by the interested listener in the contemporary Scandinavian contribution to the music.   

The CD if not stocked at your local Jazz music specialty store is available at: www.swedishmusicshop.com and, at www.phonosuecia.com

About the Writer: Eric K. Williams is a staff reporter for Den Danske Pioneer and, is also heard on Pacifica Radio’s WBAI-FM Evening News program in New York City.