Landgren & Lundgren: Kristallen review – tranquil Nordic jazz

Landgren & Lundgren: Kristallen review – tranquil Nordic jazz. (ACT)

My only difficulty with this Swedish duo is in remembering which is which. Nils Landgren is the trombonist, Jan Lundgren is the pianist and they’re both brilliant. Between them, they are masters of many styles, from funk and R&B to swing, but here they meet in the shared Nordic territory of jazz chamber music. It’s light, precise and tranquil, tinged at times with a kind of fragile nostalgia. Along with their own compositions and arrangements of traditional tunes, they include pieces by Keith Jarrett, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jimmy Webb, Hoagy Carmichael and the Beatles.

These all sound at home in this gentle setting, and the unlikely combination of piano and trombone (often at the very top of its range) can be quite magical. It’s particularly effective in the opening number, Lundgren’s Blekinge and in the lively interplay of Byssan Lull, a Swedish folk song that mysteriously turns into a blues. Landgren also sings on several tracks. He has an attractive light-husky voice and his intonation is perfect, but most of us are so used to hearing voice and piano as simply singer and accompanist, that some of the unique flavour is lost.