Christmas with My Friends VII Nils Landgren
- 1This Christmas01:48
- 2Comin' Home for Christmas04:27
- 3Ave Maria04:12
- 4This Endris Night02:49
- 5The Forest Raised a Christmas Tree02:29
- 6Gdy Sliczna Panna (Listen to My Lullaby)03:35
- 7Sizalelwe Indodana03:12
- 8Sweet Was the Song03:39
- 9Hin fyrstu jól02:58
- 10Hodie Christus03:48
- 11Just Another Christmas Song03:21
- 12Sylvian Joululaulu03:21
- 13En förtvivlad vän04:08
- 14Feliz Navidad03:23
Info for Christmas with My Friends VII
Christmas 2020 will be unlike the Christmases of the past, because the Covid-19 crisis and social distancing have fundamentally changed the way we live. Maybe they will also make us yearn more for the true spirit and the joys of Christmas. As we reflect and contemplate on what is important to us, we know that we want to keep hold of our sense of friendship and community. We feel a strong imperative to reach out for whatever can bring joy to the world. And with that thought in mind, there can surely be very few people who can gift-wrap the Christmas season in music for us – and do so quite as naturally, effectively and magically – as Nils Landgren. It is all of fourteen years since this risen star of the trombone, charisma- tic singer and established luminary of the European jazz scene first gathered together his closest companions in a studio to make a "Christmas With My Friends" album and then take the group on tour with him. The project was successful right from the start: the German magazine Stern hailed the first album as "the most beautiful Christmas CD ever." So from that point on there was no looking back, and never the slightest doubt that Landgren and his friends would go on to repeat this special way of celebrating Christmas: they have continued to do so every other year. Legions of fans have welcomed the albums and tour concerts into their own ways of celebrating Christmas. In fact, "Christmas With My Friends" has now established itself as nothing less than a Christmas tradition in its own right.
In similar fashion, this project has become something very personal for Landgren and his cohort: "Ever since we did the first 'Christmas with My Friends' tour, we have seen so many beautiful churches and concert halls, we’ve met so many wonderful people, we are full of gratitude for all of this – we can hardly wait for this year’s encounters.” ACT owner Siggi Loch didn’t need any persuading to get involved in "Christmas With My Friends VII" either. He did, however, make a suggestion, that they should reach outwards and include songs from all over the world. So Landgren enlisted the help of his long-time colleague Johan Norberg to go off and do some research.
Norberg is an experienced guitarist/producer, and he returned from his quest with a substantial trawl of songs. Of these, fourteen numbers from fourteen different countries have made it onto the album. In every respect, there has a been a widening of the scope of "Christmas With My Friends": alongside songs by classical composers such as Franz Schubert ("Ave Maria") and Benjamin Britten ("Hodie Christus"), there is a lullaby, the English 16th century carol "Sweet Was The Song". From Poland we hear "Gdy sliczna Panna/Listen to my Lullaby", from Russia there is the children’s song "The Forest Raised A Christmas Tree", and from South Africa the lively “Sizalelwe Indodana”. There is the Finnish song "Sylvian Joululaulu", scarcely known beyond its country of origin. By contrast, there is a hit that has travelled the world: "Feliz Navidad" by the Puerto Rican guitarist and pop singer José Feliciano. There are homages, such as one to the great Belgian chansonnier Jacques Brel, and there are compositions by Johan Norberg and Eva Kruse. And the scale ranges from the purity and simplicity of a cappella (Norberg's opener "This Christmas") to "Just Another Christmas Song", in which Landgren’s group convincingly delivers the sound of a full big band.
There is a very appealing variety here, but every single piece also brings out the talent of this unique cohort of musicians. Landgren’s trombone has an inimitable lightness and variety, Norberg’s guitar tone has folk resonances, the saxophone of Jonas Knutssons is imbued with wonderful lyricism, and the sound of Eva Kruse’s bass is warm and full. But above all the magic comes from the fact that the singers have voices that are so distinctive and yet so perfectly complementary: the classical vocals of Jeanette Köhn, the bittersweet soul of Ida Sand, the radiant clarity of Jessica Pilnäs, the dark, powerful blues of Sharon Dyall and – last but not least – the bright white soul singing of Nils Landgren herself. "Each of us has our own way of interpreting," says Landgren of this, "and the personality of each one of us shines through on the album. Mine too - yes I have indulged myself....and every song here really does have a special meaning for us – and maybe for you too." Christmas 2020 is not just something special; with "Christmas With Your Friends VII" it's something especially wonderful.
Nils Landgren, trombone & vocals
Sharon Dyall, vocals
Jonas Knutsson, saxophones
Jeanette Köhn, vocals
Eva Kruse, bass
Jessica Pilnäs, vocals
Ida Sand, vocals & piano
Johan Norberg, guitar & mandolin
Recorded at Atlantis Studio, Stockholm, December 7 - 8, 2019
Recording and sound design by Lars Nilsson
Mixed and mastered by Lars Nilsson at Nilento studio, Kållered, Gothenburg
Produced by Johan Norberg & Nils Landgren
With his smoking, hard-hitting "Funk Unit", the man with the Red Horn has been responsible for a bunch of successful CDs over the past years. His concerts from Stockholm to Beijing have been met with ecstatic acclamation. In duo with pianist Esbjцrn Svensson, he has elevated Swedish folk music to the level of subdued works of art. As the artistic director of the 2001 Berlin Jazz Festival, designed a state of the art presentation of Scandinavian trends and moods. In May 2002 Nils was honored with the Tore Ehrling-prizeґ by the Swedish Society Of Popular Composers for "His outstanding contribution to spread swedish jazz music around the globe".
He is a world-class soloist and artist with heart and soul: Nils Landgren.
Jazz and church music shaped his childhood. As cornetist, Nils Landgren's father brought US jazz into the house. The traditional Swedish chorales and songs came from his grandfather, who was a preacher. Nils Landgren was born in 1956. He began playing drums at the age of six. At 13 he layed his hands and lips on the trombone and was hooked for life.
Between 1972 and 1978 Nils studied classical trombone at the music college in Karlstad with David Maytan and at the university in Arvika with Ingemar Roos. During this time he also met the legendary Swedish Folk-Jazz pioneer Bengt-Arne Wallin and the fantastic tromboneplayer and proffessor of the Graz Conservatory in Austria, Eje Thelin. These two men completely changed the way for Nils to go; from a strict classical player to an improviser with his own idea of what to play and why. After his graduation Nils moved to Stockholm to work as a professional tromboneplayer. First the life of a struggling jazz musician, making no money but gaining loads of experience. Then the call that totally changed his life: an offer to go on tour with Sweden's most successful pop star of that time Bjцrn Skifs who at that time was at #1 in the US pop charts with Hooked on a feelingґ. The money was ok, the vibes were cool and the band was simply great! Ever since that time Nils Landgren has been involved in a variety of music styles and projects. These include jazz, rock, soul, hip hop, big band's, studio sessions, and by his own reckoning, at least 500 albums. Mostly, for natural reasons with Swedish artists but also with such internationals stars as ABBA, The Crusaders, Eddie Harris, Bernard Prettyґ Purdie and Herbie Hancock. Nils even plays on the first Wyclef Jean solo album, titled Carnivalґ.
In 1981 Thad Jones invited the Swede into his new Bigband project Ball of Fireґ, to take the lead-trombone chair. The band was built up around such great musicians as Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion, Tim Hagans, Bobby Burgess, Roger Kellaway, Sahib Shihab, Dusko Goykovich, and Benny. "A fantastic band, sad that it did not work out in the end", Nils says about that expreience. Two years later Nils debut album Planet Rockґ was released, followed by Streetfighterґ in 1984, You are my Nr 1ґ in 1985, Miles from Dukeґ with Bengt-Arne Wallin in 1987, Chapter Two 1ґ, in 1987, Chapter Two 2ґ and Follow your heartґ in 1989. Between 1985 and 1987 Nils also performed as actor, singer, trombonist, and dancer in over 360 performances of the Swedish "play of the year", SKЕL, as well as appearing in several TV-films as an actor.
1992 saw the first performances and recording of the Nils Landgren Unit; the recording was called Red Hornґ, and was mixed by the legendary sound engineer Bruce Swedien. (re-release 2001 as "The First Unit", ACT 9292-2). That same summer the band performed at the Playboy Jazzfestivalґ in Los Angeles, hosted by the great Bill Cosby. The final breakthrough outside of Scandinavia came first in 1994: it was at the Jazz Baltica Festival in Germany that the Unitґ became the Funk Unitґ. The album Live in Stockholmґ (ACT 9223-2) with guest star Maceo Parker was released that year and was the foundation for the collaboration with Siegfried Loch and his young ACT label.