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Jan Lundgren : In New York

In sports, coaches like to talk about “putting yourself in position to win.” Jan Lundgren has done exactly that with In New York. He borrowed Bill Charlap’s rhythm section of Peter Washington and Kenny Washington, one of the finest active piano-trio support systems. He recorded at Nola Studios with engineers Jim Czak and Bill Moss and got superb full-bandwidth sound. He assembled a stimulating program of originals, songbook classics (“East of the Sun,” “Autumn in New York,” “I Can’t Get Started”), and jazz standards by saxophonists (Golson’s “Stablemates,” Coltrane’s “Straight Street,” Shorter’s “This Is for Albert”).

Win he does. My only previous exposure to Lundgren’s work was a rather bland album of Swedish folksongs called Landscapes. But on In New York, with the Washingtons smoothing paths for him like two sweepers on the world champion Swedish curling team, Lundgren effortlessly glides and streaks over these songs. His versions of the three songbook pieces are rich, comprehensive and elegantly detailed. The positive energy is powerful and exhilarating. Even Lundgren’s “M.Z.,” for Monica Zetterlund, a wheelchair-bound Swedish singer who died tragically in an apartment fire in 2005, is much more about celebrating her life than mourning her death.

Originally Published