Finally, Swedish guitarist-multi-instrumentalist Johan Lindström releases his debut album. Lindström is known as in-demand, freelance musician and producer since the nineties. He produced and played in the recent albums of vocalists Edda Magnason («Woman Travels Alone», Pariophone, 2014), Rebecka Törnqvist («Home Secretary», Moule Recordings, 2017) and Ane Brun («Leave Me Breathless», Balloon Range Recordings, 2017). But readers of Salt Peanuts may know him from from Per ‘Texas’ Johansson’s group («De långa rulltrapporna i Flemingsberg», Moserobie, 2015) and most likely as a founding member of the quartet Tonbruket, together with Esbjörn Svensson Trio’s bass player Dan Berglund.
«Music for Empty Halls» was recorded after Lindström Septett conducted a couple of concerts in 2017. The Septett features some of the best, most resourceful Swedish jazz musicians, all were handpicked by Lindström for this project – sax player and label owner Jonas Kullhammar, keyboards player Jesper Nordenström (from Goran Kajfeš Subtropic Arkestra), reeds player Per ‘Texas’ Johansson, trombonist Mats Äleklint, bass player Torbjörn Zetterberg and drummer Konrad Agnas. All are also leaders of their own outfits. The album is released in a limited-edition of 300 blue vinyls with gatefold cover, discs and digital formats.
Lindström’s music reflects his very own personal musical niche that ignores common genre or stylistic boundaries. It is a sensual and suggestive mix of lush melodies that blend playful jazz sensibilities, breezy blues riffs and eccentric art rock edges. A fresh and surprising mix that often sound very familiar and deeply rooted in collective memories, but at the same time it has big and wide wings.
Lindström knows how to articulate a nuanced, colorful story and a distinct, untimely atmosphere. The gentle, cyclical guitar theme of «Serengeti» corresponds with West-African guitar school of Ali Farka Touré and the interplay with Kullhammar, Johansson and Äleklint follows African call-and-answer melodies. «The Run» reference an innocent American rhythm n’ blues theme but twists it with an intense, killer rhythmic shuffle. The melody of «Europe Endless Boogie» suggests a delicate waltz dance more than a wild boogie groove, carried beautifully by a commanding solo of Äleklint. The sensual guitar lines of «Sleepless Lapsteels» emphasizes what a unique guitar-lap-steel-pedal-steel player Lindström is. There are no redundant notes in his tasteful, elegant playing and he know how to charge his lush melodies with mysterious and imaginative sceneries. The last piece, «Hymn», offers a comforting closure to this fascinating journey with its chamber-choral, wordless gospel-ish pulse.
I doubt if there will be any empty halls, or even empty seats, when Lindström will take his show on the road.
Johan Lindström (g, pedal-steel, p, perc), Jesper Nordenström (p, org), Jonas Kullhammar (as, ts, bs and bass s), Per ‘Texas’ Johansson (cl, bcl, contrabass cl, ts); Mats Äleklint (btb, tb), Torbjörn Zetterberg (b), Konrad Agnas (dr, perc) Edda Magnason (v), Sofie Livebrandt (v), Ulf Forsberg (vio), Ulrika Jansson (vio), Ingegerd Kierkegard (viola), Helena Nilsson (c)