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Jan Lundgren and Peter Asplund: California Connection

Lundgren is a 30-year-old Swedish pianist who pops up in California now and then to record with leading lights of the Los Angeles scene. For this session with bassist Dave Carpenter and drummer Paul Kreibich, he brought along trumpeter Asplund, another skilled young inheritor of the bebop tradition.

Lundgren uses his highly developed technique to explicate the legacies of Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and, to some degree, McCoy Tyner. He swings hard at medium and fast tempos and has a fine lyrical sense. To a greater extent than many jazz pianists, he varies his touch for dynamic shadings. His accompaniments are sensitive; he’s a listener. An imaginative thinker, Lundgren comes up with unexpected facets. One example: Phrases from Ellington’s “Reflections in D” as an introduction to “There Will Never Be Another You.” Another: His resourceful harmonies transforming two Swedish songs, “Att Angöra en Brygga” and “Södermalm.”

Asplund, 26 at the time of this recording, has a tone so big and warm that at times he seems to be playing flugelhorn rather than trumpet. His spacious sound on open horn holds in all registers and tempos. He is fast and clean in his execution and has attractive ideas.There’s a considerable Clifford Brown component to his work, and traces of several post-Brown trumpeters as well. He sizzles in his muted playing on “I Hear a Rhapsody,” “Cotton Tail” and “Stockholm Sweetnin’.” He is respectful and touching in his exposition of the melody of Louis Armstrong’s theme, “When Its Sleepy Time Down South.”

Carpenter and Kreibich, two increasingly sung heroes on the rhythm section landscape, work together beautifully behind the piano and trumpet. A superb drummer to begin with, in the past few years Kreibich has made himself a master of brushes. Carpenter’s big sound and ears put him in the Southern California bass elite.

Lundgren and Asplund have the ability and instincts to develop into innovative improvisers. Whether or not they reach that height, they already provide great satisfaction.

Originally Published