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«Swingin’ On a Nine-String»

Norwegian, Trondheim-based guitarist Alf Wilhelm Lundberg dedicates his new solo guitar album «Swingin’ On a Nine-String» to his musical hero, Canadian-American jazz guitarist Lenny Breau (1941-1984). Breau was the first guitarist to extend the guitar with an extra high string using a fishing line to achieve a high A on his 7-string classical guitar in the last years of his life. Likewise, Lundberg turned his own custom-made 8 string Brahms guitar into a 9-string Brahms guitar with high-D extension using a fishing line on the highest string. And in a miraculous coincidence, Lundberg planned to release the album on August 5th on what would have been Breau’s 80th birthday. The album was recorded at the end of July at Lundberg’s home during the Covid-19 quarantine,  after a summer vacation in Italy.

Like Breau, Lundberg likes to blend different styles of music and «Swingin’ On a Nine-String», dedicated to the repertoire of Breau, reflects both guitarists’ inclusive vision. Lundberg, who has a background as a pianist, thinks that adding a higher string to his Behams guitar is not only taking upon the tradition of Breau but continuing that path even further. For him, the 9 string Brahms guitar is the ultimate jazz guitar, an instrument that can do voicings and big chords that are even impossible to play on a piano.

And «Swingin’ On a Nine-String» is opened by Bill Evans’ standard «Waltz for Debby» and later also covering Evans’ «Time Remembered» and a favorite standards of Evans, Victor Young’s «My Foolish Heart» and Harold Arlen’s «Somewhere Over The Rainbow», as Evans was a seminal influence on Breau guitar playing. McCoy Tyner’s «Vision» takes Lundberg to more adventurous terrains, and Bach’s «Bourreè» and the emotional cover of Breau’s only original «New York», where Lundberg also sings,  cements the rich musical universe of both guitarists. Clearly, Lundberg’s playing is inspired by Breau trademark harmonics-techniques and often he sounds nostalgic and innocent, but like his hero, he blurs the distinctions between jazz, chamber classical guitar music and folk music, and his playing flows with commanding elegance and beauty.

Eyal Hareuveni

Alf Wilhelm Lundberg (9-string Brahms g, v)

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