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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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NILS LANDGREN

Christmas With My Friends II

Act ACT 9476-2

 

 



1. A Child Is Born
2. Maria Går I Törnesnår
3. Ding Dong Merrily On High
4. Jul Jul Strålande Jul
5. Himmel
6. Det Är En Ros Utsprungen (Es ist ein Ros entsprungen)
7. Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
8. Veni Veni Emanuel
9. In Dulce Jubilo
10. This Christmas
11. Candlelight Carol
12. Kristallen
13. Christmas Hymn
14. Mariä Wiegenlied
15. Peace On Earth
 
Nils Landgren - Trombone, vocals
Ida Sand - Piano, vocals
Jonas Knutsson - Sax
Johan Norberg - Guitar, kantele
Eva Kruse - Bass
Jeanette Köhn, Jessica Pilnäs, Sharon Dyall - Vocals
 
 

So many albums of Christmas music have been released over the years that one wonders what novelties any new CD can bring. There have been quite a lot of jazzy Christmas albums, but I'm not sure how much this new one deserves to be labelled "jazz".

Trombonist Nils Landgren made an album called Christmas With My Friends in 2006 and this is a second instalment. Landgren has made a wide variety of jazz albums, which have often been on the funky side of jazz. Yet an upbeat song like Ding Dong Merrily on High is here given a not-very-funky treatment, although it has an attractive vocal by pianist Ida Sand and a slightly jazzy solo from Nils Landgren. This is taken at a gentle mid-tempo but most of the songs are slow numbers which don't necessarily lend themselves to a jazz approach. Even In Dulce Jubilo is performed as a slow, reflective piece, with meditative soprano sax by Jonas Knutsson.

This is not to say that this is a bad album - it's simply that it may not appeal to jazz fans who like to tap their feet (even to Christmas carols). Many tracks are nearer folk music than jazz, several originating in Scandinavian tradition.

There are some bewitching vocals - for example, from Sharon Dyall, (who brings a gospel feeling to Peace on Earth) and Jessica Pilnäs in A Child is Born (now as traditional a Christmas song as any ancient carol), although Nils Landgren's hoarse vocal contributions to this track suggest that he would do best to stick with the trombone. He does just that on Himmel and Christmas Hymn - two evocative duets with guitarist Johan Norberg - and they work very well. The kantele which is used on a couple of tracks by Norberg is a Finnish stringed instrument played by plucking. Incidentally, track 7 (which is entitled Oh Little Town of Bethlehem) will be better known to most listeners as Mary's Boy Child.

Even if this is not a CD to "file under jazz", it is full of music that conveys peace and love. So, a Happy Christmas to all our readers.

Tony Augarde

 

 

 



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