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

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European Standards

Act 9482-2



1. Computer Liebe
2. Les Moulins de mon Coeur
3. Here, There and Everywhere
4. A Csitari Hegyek Alatt
5. Stets I Truure
6. Yo Vivo Enamorao
7. Un Homme et une Femme
8. Reginella
9. Il Postino
10. September Song
11. Rosemary's Baby
12. Wien, Du Stadt Meiner Träume
13. Pavane - Thoughts Of A Septuagenarian
Jan Lundgren - Piano, Fender Rhodes
Mattias Svensson - Bass
Zolta Csorsz Jr. - Drums, percussion

Sometimes you think that the tunes called "jazz standards" are becoming over-familiar. Then along comes an album which makes you change your mind. Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren and his trio breathe new life into some of these standard songs - although I must admit that I don't know all of them. The Swedish wording on the sleeve conceals some tunes that we actually know well. For instance, you may recognise Les Moulins de mon Coeur as Michel Legrand's The Windmills of Your Mind. Of course we know Here, There and Everywhere and September Song, and we may well be acquainted with the film themes from Un Homme et une Femme, Il Postino and Rosemary's Baby (this last written by Polish composer Kzysztof Komeda) .

Familiar or not, every tune comes up fresh as interpreted by this trio, whose togetherness reaches the integration that people often noted in the Bill Evans Trio - where bassist and drummer appeared as important as the pianist. In fact bassist Mattias Svensson is given a surprising amount of exposure: often stating themes and getting plenty of solos. Drummer Zoltan Csorsz Jr. is equally vital to the effectiveness of the group, supplying rhythms which are often unexpected but always work superbly well. Jan Lundgren himself is a remarkable pianist, with marvelklous technique (occasionally reiminiscent of Oscar Peterson) and a clear touch which can vary from forecful to exquisite.

The way that the trio transforms material is illustrated by Here, There and Everywhere - one of the Beatles' best melodies. It is often performed as a gentle ballad but here it is a swinger, with the first solo on double bass (more audible than many bass solos on record). Jan Lundgren's piano gradually enters and then the drums join in to heat up the swing. The seductive theme from Un Homme et une Femme (i.e. A Man and a Woman) is given added impetus by the drummer's jazz-rock beat. September Song similarly benefits from a surprisingly funky rhythm. And Computer Liebe is our old friend Computer Love from the electro group Kraftwerk, with a lively bouncing beat.

Of the tunes which may be less familiar to Brits and Yanks, A Csitari Hegyek Alatt and Stets I Truure are traditional melodies: the former a meditative Hungarian piece; the latter a more spirited Swiss tune. Yo Vivo Enamorao comes from Spain, with Zoltan adding a castanet effect on the drums. Reginella is a gently swaying Italian waltz. Wien, Du Stadt Meiner Träume is a paean of praise to the city of Vienna, sung by Richard Tauber in the 1935 film Heart's Desire. The album ends by returning to Jan Lundgren's homeland with a tune written by another notable Swedish pianist (the late Esbjorn Svensson), performed here as a delicate piano solo.

The brilliance of the playing throughout this album is matched by the brilliant recording, which gives the trio real presence and impact. This is a sort of companion album to the earlier Swedish Standards (Act 9022-2) which was released in 1997 and is now being reissued. The material is even more recherché than on European Standards - unless you are Swedish. But the playing is just as good, so both albums are highly recommended, although the European one will be more accessible to non-Swedes.

Tony Augarde

see also review by Derek Ansell

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