Vocalists Shine at Stockholm Jazz Festival


Singer Lina Nyberg and her band perform at the 2017 Stockholm Jazz Festival.

(Photo: Heiko Purnhagen 2017)

One of the first sets at this year’s Stockholm Jazz Festival, which ran Oct. 6–15, started with a formless, 21-minute excavation. It was by Sweden’s Tonbruket quartet. For newcomers to this band, anything seemed possible, but suddenly, from formless to form, the group moved into a 6/4 groove.

Acoustic bassist Dan Berglund (formerly of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio)—flanked by guitarist Johan Lindstrom and drummer Andreas Werlin on one side and keyboardist/violinist Martin Hederos on the other—led the band through Lindstrom’s “Tarantella,” a robust, combustible shuffe. The band’s onstage telepathy and cohesion were impressive, even if some of the music itself was somewhat pedestrian. Throughout the band’s 90-minute set, no one stood out as a preeminent soloist, although each player took his share of the spotlight.

There were periods of goth-like rock followed by sudden pauses that led to a more classical approach, with pianist Hederos moving from organ back to piano, replete with rubato flourishes worthy of the late Keith Emerson.

Performing music from her two-CD set Terrestrial (the third in a trilogy for Hoob Records), Swedish singer Lina Nyberg and her superb band delivered a very distinctive program. Accompanying Nyberg’s unique vocals, pianist Cecilia Persson, electric guitarist David Stackenas, bassist Josef Kallerdahl and drummer Peter Danemo filled in for the string orchestra heard on Terrestrial. The two-set performance at the venue Fasching was bookended with impressive interpretations, beginning with a haunting take on “Lazy Afternoon” (which is a track onTerrestrial) and concluding with Baden Powell’s colorful “X Canto De Ossanha.”

The group’s ways of approaching a song, with odd intervals for soloists and interludes that would change course with contrasting tempos and rhythms, kept the music fresh and pleasingly unpredictable. Stakenas’ often reverb-laden guitar complemented Nyberg’s heavily narra- tive, theatrical vocal style. Going from dramatic and cloudy to bright, Nyberg and her band seemed like extensions of one another, despite the music’s idiosyncrasies.

Other notable singers this year included another Swede, Rigmor Gustafsson, who performed at Fasching to a packed house. Gustafsson delivered a tasty mix of familiar tunes, ably supported by her band of bassist Martin Hoper, drummer Chris Montgomery and pianist Daniel Karlsson. Novel arrangements were the bill of fare: a waltzing, robust take on Burt Bacharach’s “Walk On By,” a slow and easeful “Over The Rainbow,” and James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain,” performed at a deliberate pace that was more akin to folk than jazz, but with a slight touch of funk.

Jessica Curran (who was born in Massachusetts but is now based in Stockholm) displayed her versatility by singing in a variety of styles in two separate concerts. At her standing-room-only show at the 150-seat Scalateatern, she and her rotating seven-piece band visited material from her debut album of original music, Here. Traversing both spritely and more worldly terrain, Curran’s life-arming voice conveyed a sense of yearning.

Sweden’s Vivian Buczek sang music from her new album, Ella Lives (Prophone). Appearing at Plugged Records, Buczek was accompanied by pianist Martin Sjostedt, bassist Niklas Fernquist and drummer Lofcrantz Ramsay, with special guest trumpeter/vocalist Peter Asplund on select numbers. Buczek’s delicate voice is well suited to songs made popular by Fitzgerald, which this night included “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” an uptempo “Yesterdays” and a crawling “Prelude To A Kiss.”

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