The World’s A Stage celebrates Swedish jazz vocalist-composer Lina Nyberg’s 30th anniversary of her first album Close with the pianist Esbjörn Svensson (Prophone, 1993), and she does so in a grandiose way. Nyberg was a Composer in Residence at Vara Konserthus during 2022-2023 and has written a commissioned work that follows the dramaturgy of an old-fashioned Broadway musical performed by her with the Bohuslän Big Band.
This seven-part suite is structured as a tribute to Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein, and all the classic Broadway composers, and each part is dedicated to a composer or musician who meant a lot musically for Nyberg. The title of the album refers, obviously, to William Shakespeare famous saying: «All the world’s a stage, and all men and women but players». And this suite attempts to encompass all life experiences, happiness and disasters, births and deaths, and everything in between.
Nyberg is a skilled composer who is well-versed in the legacy of jazz big bands, has studied orchestral conduction, and mastered the rich spectrum of colors and sounds of the Bohuslän Big Band. She arranged and conducted the suite, which was recorded by the same sound engineer who recorded Close, Åke Linton, live at Vara Concert Hall. But most important is her gift of conveying deep, and sometimes even troubled emotional states of mind in an elegant and engaging way, without sliding into sentimentality but with a warm and insightful delivery.
This suite begins with the lyrical and orchestral «Prelude to a Dance» dedicated to Sweish jazz pianist and bandleader Gugge Hedrenius, and Nyberg remembers dancing as a teenager to Hedrenius’ big band in Stockholm in the 80s. «The Dance» is dedicated to British jazz pianist John Taylor and vocalist Norma Winstone and suggests a gentle dance of the Big Band with soprano sax player Joakim Rolandsson. The playful and swinging «A Walk in the Park» is dedicated to Swedish composer-arranger-conductor Örjan Fahlström, and Nyberg refers to herself as she «dodges like a sailor but sings like a lark». The orchestral «The Royal Rumble» is dedicated to Swedish jazz pianist-composer Jan Johansson and features solos of sax players Rolandsson, Martin Bjurek Svanström and Alberto Pinton and pianist Stefan Wingefors.
«I Apologize» is dedicated to American jazz vocalist Carmen McRae and features Nyberg in an intimate and naked interplay with pianist Wingefors and trumpeter Linnea Jonsson. «Enough», dedicated to Swedish sax player Lennart Åberg who passed away in September 2021, begins in a mournful tone but the sax solo of Mikael Karlsson sounds like celebrating Åberg’s legacy. The sensual «A Wonderful Morning» reflects Nyberg’s profound love of Brazilian music and is dedicated to Brazilian singer Elis Regina and singer-songwriter-guitarist Milton Nascimento. The last piece of this beautiful album is Nyberg covering herself, singing the emotional and vulnerable title song of Close, but from a mature perspective and the experience of thirty years of career. She charges this song with more nuances and enjoys the choir of Bohuslän Big Band who conclude this song by repeating together with Nyberg the phrase «close to you» as a comforting mantra.
Lina Nyberg (v), Stefan Wingefors (p), Fredrik Norén (tp), Linnea Jonsson (tp), Lennart Grahn (tp), Samuel Olsson (tp), Jan Eliasson (tp), Niclas Rydh (tb), Christer Olofsson (tb), Hanne Småvik (tb), Ingrid Utne (btb), Gustaf Wiklund (btb), Joakim Rolandsson (s, woodwind), Martin Bjurek Svanström (s, woodwind), Linus Lindblom (s, woodwind), Mikael Karlsson (s, woodwind), Alberto Pinton (s, woodwind), Göran Kroon (perc)