Even the most passionate aficionado of free jazz and free-improvised music needs to vary his sonic diet from time to time. The new, debut album of Swedish folk masters fiddler Per Gudmundson, known from the trio Frifot (with multi-instrumentalist Ale Möller and vocalist Lena Willemark), and accordion player Bengan Janson, «Hjeltamôs», may offer a program of leisured music that explores completely different territories, literally, from the ones of free music.
The intimate meeting pf Gudmundson and Janson suggests a series of innocent polkas, marches and waltzes that distill a long chain of historically transmitted knowledge. But «Hjeltamôs» also offers themes that reek of bloody, pagan stories, another tune that is perfect for keeping fit and even one stimulated by a local magic mushroom. Turns out that contemporary traditional music is not so different from free music.
Some of the 17 short tunes are ones that Gudmundson and Janson have played together with veteran fiddler Björn Ståbi – to whom «Hjeltamôs» is dedicated – while others are from the picturesque county Rättvik, learned from fiddlers the duo has met, or been inspired by through recordings and notations. The roots of this music are found in Sweden’s peasant society, in the music of the summer pastures, baroque music and church music, and the liner notes supply short stories and few historic photos about the music.
But even without knowing much about the cultural background you can enjoy the freshness of this vibrant music today. This intimate music radiates compassionate optimism mixed with subtle veins of melancholy and some sparks of Celtic folk music. These beautiful folk tunes are fused with the expressive, personal languages and musical experiences of Gudmundson and Janson, «without conscious side glances or agendas … in our own way». Some kind of enchanting free, folk music.
Per Gudmundson (vio), Bengan Janson (acc)