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JOHAN LINDSTRÖM & NORRBOTTEN BIG BAND

«Johan Lindström & Norrbotten Big Band»
MOSEROBIE, MMPCD 131

Last year, Swedish guitarist-composer-producer Johan Lindström, one of the most influential instrumentalists on the Swedish jazz scene and co-founder of the Tonbruket quartet, won the first Swedish Grammy for the Moserobie label for his Septett’s album On The Asylum (Moserobie, 2021). The new album of Lindström with the Norbotten Big Band may be a strong candidate for another Grammy.

Lindström was Norbotten Big Band’s Composer in Residence in 2020. He wrote a cycle of nine compositions (the double vinyl version of the album promises a tenth, bonus composition), described by him as «a kaleidoscope where the pattern takes shape to the tune of zombie-cha-cha, big band folk, instrumental hip-hop and then some Kurt Weill, Igor Stravinsky and Peres Perado on top of that». There are very few composers who can weave such eclectic seemingly disparate musical idioms into an uncompromising «Arctic Mambo» (as one of the compositions is titled) whole while sounding truly original, engaging and sensual.

Lindström wrote all the arrangements for the Norbotten Big Band, conducted by artistic director Joakim Milder and augmented by trombonist Mats Äleklint, who played in the two albums of Lindström Septett, and vibes player Mattias Ståhl. The music is structured as a nine-part suite that patiently builds its tension and its emotional climaxes and highlights Lindström’s gift to sketch nuanced and seductive, dramatic stories that borrow familiar musical clichés and turn them upside down.

The music of this album appeals to the inquisitive, restless soul and comforts the emotional body at the same time. Lindström employs the rich sonic palette of the Norbotten Big Band like a wise painter, rarely exhausting its full power on his detailed musical canvas. He contributed economical but brilliant guitar solos (but unfortunately, no pedal steel guitar here), and arranged refined, colorful orchestral layers, sparking with the most beautiful musical imagination.

Lindström described his work with the Norbotten Big Band as being secretly in love with the prettiest girl in school and then ending up together with her. Lucky for him. Lucky for us.

Eyal Hareuveni

Sebastian Ågren (dr), Petter Olofsson (b), Britta Virves (keys, p), Mattias Ståhl (marimba, vib), Janne Thelin (as, cl), Hakan Broström (as, ss, fl), Mats Garberg (ts, fl), Robert Nordmark (ts, cl), Per Moberg (bs, fl), Bo Strandberg (tp, flh), Magnus Ekholm (tp, flh), Dan Johansson (tp, flh, synth tp), Jacek Onuszkiewics (tp, flh), Michal Tomaszczyk (tb), Peter Dahlgren (tb), Mats Äleklint (tb), Magnus Rydell (btb), Johan Lindström (g, perc), Joakim Milder (cond)

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