Nils Landgren

some other time (vinyl)

Format: LP 12inch
Label: ACT music
UPC: 0614427981318
Catnr: ACTLP 98131
Release date: 25 March 2016
1 LP 12inch
ACT music
Catalogue number
ACTLP 98131
Release date
25 March 2016

About the album

“Jazz is the joy of playing, and hence entertainment in the best sense of the word” (Leonard Bernstein)
Of all the great classical maestros of his generation, Leonard Bernstein was the key advocate of jazz. He was not only a profound authority on jazz music, he could also play it on the piano and used its elements when he composed. All the stranger that jazz musicians have practically never adapted Bernstein. These were the exact thoughts of ACT boss Siggi Loch who suggested to Nils Landgren that he create a tribute to the great 20th century composer. And Landgren didn’t have to think twice about it: “I have always been a fan of Bernstein, as a musician, as a conductor, as a composer and simply as a person. His music is unique, the way he writes is distinctive, emotional and always so human.”

What Landgren didn’t know yet was that “Some Other Time” was to become the most complex project of his career to date. A highlight right on time for his 60th birthday on 15 February 2016. He travelled to New York several times to do research. By the end he had managed to put together an “absolute dream team”: the outstanding sound machine of 18 members of the Bochum Symphony Orchestra, an exquisite jazz band, the world-class arranger Vince Mendoza and a vocalist for the authentic New York vibe: Janis Siegel from the legendary “The Manhattan Transfer”.

The all-star trio provides the rhythmic foundation:
Wolfgang Haffner, the infallible timekeeper and “Germany’s coolest drummer” (ARD ttt); Dieter Ilg, who brings with him the perfect references for this project in the form of his classic interpretations of Verdi, Wagner and Beethoven; and last but not least Swedish pianist Jan Lundgren, who along with his Nordic “Vemod” and impressionist esprit also has roots in the American jazz piano tradition.
None other then American star arranger Vince Mendoza (six Grammys and 25 nominations!) was asked to do the orchestration and direct the Bochum Symphony Orchestra team. Mendoza, who over the years has worked with greats including the likes of Herbie Hancock and Al Jarreau, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berliner Philharmoniker, and with pop stars from Björk to Robbie Williams, had already been a key part of a ground-breaking ACT production in 1992: “Jazzpaña”, which merges Flamenco with jazz. His big surprise for the Bernstein project: no strings (as one would most certainly have expected), only woodwinds and brass, arranged masterfully and with a richness of sound nuances.

The rhythm section fuses completely with the Bochum Symphony musicians and it is over this foundation that the inimitable trombone and characteristic, fragile vocals from Nils Landgren soar.
The third key person for the project, alongside Landgren and Mendoza, is Janis Siegel, who achieved international stardom with the a-cappella quartet “The Manhattan Transfer”. She was the logical choice for Nils Landgren: “Janis is the perfect singer for the project. She injects Broadway flair into the music and is very closely linked to Bernstein’s music. Janis is a good friend of Jamie Bernstein, Leonard’s daughter. I visited her in New York, we talked about the music and rehearsed a little, and it worked from the very first moment on. Janis’ contribution to “Some Other Time” is of immeasurable value.”

All of them approached the work with the greatest respect for Bernstein’s legacy. “Some Other Time” did not become a big-band project: it is symphonic in its composing and it remains symphonic. “Vince and I looked for the classical sound with a jazzy twist,” Landgren explains. He is most proud of the joint accomplishment: “Everyone put their favourites into the mix, then we cooked it all down in a big pot until what we thought were the best bits were left.” The repertoire stretches across the spectrum, starting with pieces from Bernstein’s first musical “On The Town” written in 1944, which gained worldwide acclaim through the film starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. It also provided the title “Some Other Time”, that was then and is now ambiguous in its sense: nostalgic, futuristic or a musical promise. Songs for “Wonderful Town” like “A Quiet Girl”, which have been unjustly largely forgotten over time are explored, as are “A Simple Song” from Bernstein’s 1971 “Mass”. The core element is of course “West Side Story”, from the overture “America” to “Maria” and “Cool” and on to “Somewhere”.

Melodies and music without limits or borders from a rare catalogue of timeless masterpieces. Reanimated in their very own special way by musicians who breathe life into a different Bernstein credo that is more pertinent today than ever: ““This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”


There is a synonym for the words diversity, curiosity and zeal: Nils Landgren. James Brown used to be considered the “hardest working man in showbusiness” and it now appears that the god of funk has bequeathed this title to a Swede who cheerfully travels the world with a bright red trombone. “Mr. Red Horn” swings brilliantly from one perspective to the next, also because he needs this constant change. Somehow, Nils Landgren, 55 years-old, also miraculously manages to divide his time – when he is not touring with his “Funk Unit” or other projects under his own name, he is very much in demand as a producer or talent scout. He passes his expertise on to students in Hamburg and Shanghai, advises the NDR Big Band on artistic matters (with which he also played as musician for several years), works with the versatile Swedish Bohuslän Big Band (most recently with arranger Colin Towns on “Don’t Fence Me In – the Music of Cole Porter” ACT 9028-2) and also compiles, as artistic director, the programme of the JazzFest Berlin (until 2011). “Even when I’m not bored it’s good for me to do several things at once so that I can have different perspectives as these change the way I sing and play the trombone and my audience also benefits from it,” he says. For those who have been musically loyal to him for years, things never get boring. With Nils Landgren they have someone who feels as dedicated to the rich folklore tradition of his homeland as to the previously unheard. An idealist who ignores the boundaries between the genres and who has collaborated in joint projects with musicians such as Maceo Parker, Colin Towns, the Brecker Brothers, Airto Moreira, Till Brönner, Roy Hargrove, Fred Wesley, Steve Gadd, Richard Galliano, Michael Wollny, Joao Bosco, Benny Anderson (from ABBA), Viktoria Tolstoy, Joe Sample, Ray Parker Jr., Eddie Harris and Esbjörn Svensson and, in doing so, has continually broadened his horizons. Landgren embodies not one but two souls. When the audience sees him with his “Funk Unit”, the Swede shows himself from his masculine and distinct, relentlessly grooving side and acts the jazz action hero. However, there is also a gentle melancholic, highly sentimental Nils Landgren. He can be seen during Advent time, for example, when the instrumentalist and singer celebrates “Christmas With My Friends” or on ballad albums like the current “The Moon, The Stars And You” (ACT 9505-2) as well as “Ballads“ (ACT 9268-2) and “Sentimental Journey” (9409-2) – in which he intones on the trombone with incomparable smoothness and his highly individual, fragile voice touches the heart and the soul with a remarkable sensibility. Landgren came into contact with music already early on. He started playing the drums when he was only six years-old, the nightmare of all parents. It was when he was 13 years-old that Nils Landgren, born in 1956 in Degerfors, Värmland, under the star sign of Aquarius, realised his calling and changed to the trombone. Between 1972 and 1978, he gained a sound classical basis at various teaching establishments and quickly put these newly acquired technical skills on the trombone into practice, also in other areas. Encounters with folk jazz pioneer Bengt-Arne Wallin and trombonist Eje Thelin accelerated his musical career change. A change of location was also due and Nils Landgren moved to Stockholm where, within only a short time, he became known as the “man for all occasions”, a true one-off, someone who is able to stand out in almost any stylistic environment, a studio whizz. In 1981 he was taken on as the lead trombonist for the “Ball of Fire” project of the legendary Thad Jones which really proved to be a challenge. “After the first evening all I wanted to do was go home,” laughs Landgren. However, it is challenges like the one with Jones that made him such an accomplished musician, someone who is today not worried by new challenges. Bring them on! The solo career of the man who has always gone right up to his limits and beyond, both musically and conditionally, has been going strong for almost thirty years. Nils Landgren’s debut, “Planet Rock” from 1983, marked the starting point of a very impressive discography including projects which could hardly be any more different from one another. The duo recordings, for example “Layers of Light“ (ACT 9281-2) and “Swedish Folk Modern” (ACT 9428-2) with pianist Esbjörn Svensson who tragically died far too young, as well as the album “Gotland” (ACT 9226-2), reveal someone who is very closely connected to their homeland, who moves through Scandinavian’s sound worlds, drifts into the ethereal and into the incomprehensible. On “Salzau Music On The Water” (ACT 9445-2) he met vibraphonist Christopher Dell and bassist Lars Danielsson on an installation on the water near Schloss Salzau and played ethereal sounds into time, a time during which night is falling asleep and the new morning is still yawing. The three were totally at one with nature during the recording. However, the same Nils Landgren is also able to quickly come back down to earth again. To make a reference, for example, to the world famous fellow Swedes from ABBA with “Funky ABBA” (ACT 9430-2) or honour Cannonball Adderley with the album “Paint it Blue” (ACT 9243-2) by his multi award winning group “Funk Unit”, originally simply called “Unit”. Landgren gave the group its current name for the JazzBaltica Festival which also gave him his international breakthrough in 1994. This band does not, incidentally, only achieve great things from a musical viewpoint – the album “Funk For Life” (9500-2) supported, together with Doctors without Borders, a project to help musically promote children and teenagers in “Kibera”, one of the biggest slums in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. For each sold CD, one euro went to the good cause. “Teamwork” (ACT 9552-2), released in spring 2013, is another milestone in the Funk Unit history: technically outstanding, this is a group of team players who combine well with a great groove connection. James Brown meets Parliament meets Crusaders meets Funk Unit: that's one way you could describe the musical concept on "Teamwork". It is pure party feeling, the notes whirl coolly through the ranks, superb horn sets alternate with ecstatic solos, dance beats, smooth vocals and strong melodies, but there is also time for elegance and heartfelt blues. "Teamwork" is all that and then some, played by a dream team of sweat-inducing funk workers with soul in their blood. With his album, “The Moon, the Stars and You” (ACT 9505-2), released in August 2011, Nils Landgren again shows himself from his sensitive and fragile side. The ballad album is a continuation of “Sentimental Journey“ – one of the most successful albums of his career. Together with pianist Michael Wollny, bassist Lars Danielsson and renowned guests such as Richard Galliano, Steve Gadd, Joe Sample, Joao Bosco, Cæcilie Norby, the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and the NDR Big Band, Nils Landgren interprets jazz standards, folk and pop and, of course, several of his own compositions. These are all carefully tuned, full of longing, occasionally funky and effervescent, yet always inspirational and swinging. What will Nils Landgren come up with next? Where will his musical and artistic talents take him? Which hurdles does he feel he must still overcome? The Swedish all rounder has proven himself in so many different areas that his audience now believes he is capable of anything and more. Fact is: his greatest weakness may also be his greatest strength – he is bad at one thing: saying no.



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