If Oli Silk is the British version of Brian Culbertson, Jonathan Fritzén is the Swedish edition of Brian Culbertson, the 36-year-old American pianist known for his melodic and much-imitated style. That style puts memorable pop music, much of it love songs, at the top of the to-do list, with liberal proffering of warm and fuzzy piano runs. It’s a highly likable style, and one that seems easy but is actually difficult to pull off.
Like Silk, Fritzén succeeds. The pianist, who has a master’s degree in jazz studies from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, is an auteur in the studio, as he plays guitar, bass and programs multiple instruments and sounds. His smooth-jazz is mellow for a twentysomething performer, but he’s also a romantic at heart. His music has a groove that takes it far out of the standard easy-listening category, which Culbertson also designs to perfection. Acoustic keyboards are accented by electric keyboard shout-outs and a profusion of computerized blips.
“Temple of Dreams” and “Back 2 to the Club” would sell as hits on any smooth-jazz radio station in the States, while tracks like “Deep Down” and “Far Away” are snuggle-worthy or just a fine complement to an equally fine companion.