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Ulf Wakenius: Love Is Real

Love Is Real was not intended as a memorial to Esbjörn Svensson-the disc was recorded in 2007-but it takes on added poignancy since the brilliant Swedish pianist died in a diving accident this past June. As it happens, the first album celebrating his music comes from a countryman, the guitarist Ulf Wakenius, whose previous album paid tribute to Keith Jarrett.

The tragedy and the timing of this release affect how we receive it. Much of the music floats along softly, as though it were intended for a Windham Hill compilation or as background music for the Weather Channel. Fans of Svensson’s work may find it hard to accept this idea. Yet, curiously, Love Is Real works. It’s pleasant, it’s enjoyable, and it’s appropriate.

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