Nature Boy Nils Landgren
- 1Morning Has Broken02:52
- 2Nature Boy04:07
- 3A Minor03:33
- 4In a Sentimental Mood04:31
- 7Allt under himmelens fäste03:19
- 8Der Mond ist aufgegangen02:55
- 9Nu sjunker bullret03:11
- 10Din klara sol går åter opp02:05
- 11Som stjärnor små03:17
- 12Den blomstertid nu kommer03:23
- 13Jag lyfter ögat mot himmelen02:58
- 14Sov på min arm02:05
Info for Nature Boy
The Man with the Red Horn. Nils Landgren’s nickname is apt. It brings to mind the fiery, coruscating energy with which the charismatic, soulful trombonist leads his Funk Unit. And yet there are many other facets to this hugely popular Swedish musician. In the course of a 40-year career, he has taken on many roles, producing albums, directing festivals, leading big bands, teaching in universities...
And yet his musical personality also has a very different side, one that is much more delicate and softer. Ithas previously come to the fore in various contexts, notably at the end of the 1990s in his duo with Esbjörn Svensson and their groundbreaking interpretations of Swedish folk music on the albums "Swedish Folk Modern" and "Layers Of Light". He has also increasingly nurtured it as a singer of ballads, with a very appealing warmth and lyricism. These have also been the defining characteristics of the Christmas programmes which he has created every two years since 2006 on the "Christmas With My Friends" tour and album series. And it is this contemplative and melodic dimension to Landgren’s work which is now placed front and centre stage. Here is a genuine premiere: Nils Landgren's first ever solo album.
The fact that “Nature Boy”, the otherworldly song made famous by Nat King Cole, became the album’s title track is no accident: it is about a "strange boy" who has "wandered very far over land and sea " to realise that the most precious thing is "to love and be loved in return ". These sentiments are analogous to the story of how the album itself came into existence. On 13 March 2020, Nils Landgren had returned to Skillinge in southern Sweden from Hamburg, having taken the last flight before borders closed and Europe went into lockdown. For a person who in normal circumstances would hardly ever spend a whole week in the same place, Landgren suddenly and unexpectedly found himself for several months with his wife Bea in their old house near the coast. A "strange but personally wonderful time", as Landgren remembers, but around Christmas-time he began to miss the "Christmas With My Friends" tour that would normally have been happening. So he suggested to Bea that he might at least play and record alone for her in the church. She immediately loved the idea.
Landgren put in a request to the priest at the church nearby, Ingelstorps Kyrka. The priest, Maria, ensured that the church would be heated and that everything would be ready for Landgren. And then, when the moment came and he played the first solo notes – "only me, myself and my trombone" – it was almost a shock: "Such a beautiful sound, making the tone of my trombone just fly through time and space. Bea and I looked at each other in silence, knowing that this can become something special."
It was also special because Landgren only chose pieces with a personal significance for him. In the first instance there are the traditional Swedish songs such as "Allt under himmelens fäste" (everything under the sky) or "Värmlandsvisan" (Värmland song), which he had sung in church as a child – and also "Den blomstertid nu kommer" (now comes flowering time), written in the 17th century by Israel Kolmodin, an ancestor of Landgren’s. Then there are are traditional songs which were around when he was setting out as an instrumentalist, such as the German "Der Mond ist aufgegangen" (the moon has risen) and "Morning Has Broken", made famous by Cat Stevens, but in fact a hymn tune from Mull in Scotland; then two Duke Ellington songs – "In a Sentimental Mood" and "Solitude" – which had once sparked his love of jazz and big band music; one of his own early compositions "A Minor"; and finally two wonderful songs by the Swedish ballad singer and national icon Evert Taube. The album ends with Taube’s lullaby "Sov på min arm" (sleep on my arm), which Landgren heard very often as a child.
As Landgren hoped and predicted, “Nature Boy" has indeed become something very special, and in several respects. It shows him from a side that "is always there, but not always to be seen", as he says. Inevitably, the listener is drawn in by the depth of feeling, reinforced by the serenity of Landgren's playing and the freedom of the arrangements with which he gives new form and meaning to the songs. And there is also the magical power of the sound of the trombone in the reverberant acoustic 19th century church. Landgren had never recorded alone before. With its genesis in the circumstances of a specific time, this solo statement looks back at a 40-year career and illuminates it with sounds that are timeless.
Nils Landgren, trombone
With his smoking, hard-hitting "Funk Unit", the man with the Red Horn has been responsible for a bunch of successful CDs over the past years. His concerts from Stockholm to Beijing have been met with ecstatic acclamation. In duo with pianist Esbjцrn Svensson, he has elevated Swedish folk music to the level of subdued works of art. As the artistic director of the 2001 Berlin Jazz Festival, designed a state of the art presentation of Scandinavian trends and moods. In May 2002 Nils was honored with the Tore Ehrling-prizeґ by the Swedish Society Of Popular Composers for "His outstanding contribution to spread swedish jazz music around the globe".
He is a world-class soloist and artist with heart and soul: Nils Landgren.
Jazz and church music shaped his childhood. As cornetist, Nils Landgren's father brought US jazz into the house. The traditional Swedish chorales and songs came from his grandfather, who was a preacher. Nils Landgren was born in 1956. He began playing drums at the age of six. At 13 he layed his hands and lips on the trombone and was hooked for life.
Between 1972 and 1978 Nils studied classical trombone at the music college in Karlstad with David Maytan and at the university in Arvika with Ingemar Roos. During this time he also met the legendary Swedish Folk-Jazz pioneer Bengt-Arne Wallin and the fantastic tromboneplayer and proffessor of the Graz Conservatory in Austria, Eje Thelin. These two men completely changed the way for Nils to go; from a strict classical player to an improviser with his own idea of what to play and why. After his graduation Nils moved to Stockholm to work as a professional tromboneplayer. First the life of a struggling jazz musician, making no money but gaining loads of experience. Then the call that totally changed his life: an offer to go on tour with Sweden's most successful pop star of that time Bjцrn Skifs who at that time was at #1 in the US pop charts with Hooked on a feelingґ. The money was ok, the vibes were cool and the band was simply great! Ever since that time Nils Landgren has been involved in a variety of music styles and projects. These include jazz, rock, soul, hip hop, big band's, studio sessions, and by his own reckoning, at least 500 albums. Mostly, for natural reasons with Swedish artists but also with such internationals stars as ABBA, The Crusaders, Eddie Harris, Bernard Prettyґ Purdie and Herbie Hancock. Nils even plays on the first Wyclef Jean solo album, titled Carnivalґ.
In 1981 Thad Jones invited the Swede into his new Bigband project Ball of Fireґ, to take the lead-trombone chair. The band was built up around such great musicians as Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion, Tim Hagans, Bobby Burgess, Roger Kellaway, Sahib Shihab, Dusko Goykovich, and Benny. "A fantastic band, sad that it did not work out in the end", Nils says about that expreience. Two years later Nils debut album Planet Rockґ was released, followed by Streetfighterґ in 1984, You are my Nr 1ґ in 1985, Miles from Dukeґ with Bengt-Arne Wallin in 1987, Chapter Two 1ґ, in 1987, Chapter Two 2ґ and Follow your heartґ in 1989. Between 1985 and 1987 Nils also performed as actor, singer, trombonist, and dancer in over 360 performances of the Swedish "play of the year", SKЕL, as well as appearing in several TV-films as an actor.
1992 saw the first performances and recording of the Nils Landgren Unit; the recording was called Red Hornґ, and was mixed by the legendary sound engineer Bruce Swedien. (re-release 2001 as "The First Unit", ACT 9292-2). That same summer the band performed at the Playboy Jazzfestivalґ in Los Angeles, hosted by the great Bill Cosby. The final breakthrough outside of Scandinavia came first in 1994: it was at the Jazz Baltica Festival in Germany that the Unitґ became the Funk Unitґ. The album Live in Stockholmґ (ACT 9223-2) with guest star Maceo Parker was released that year and was the foundation for the collaboration with Siegfried Loch and his young ACT label.