Fine Together – TMcCD 010

Following the success of his first album for Touché Music: "Cry Me A River" (TMcCD 005) tenor saxophonist Anders Lindskog teams up with two of the finest musicians from Denmark - guitarist Jacob Fischer and bassist Jesper Lundgaard. All the music was recorded in Copenhagen and it can be said without exaggeration that the three musicians "found" each other on the highest musical plane. With his profoundly intimate and warm sound, Anders joins his two Danish colleagues in a programme featuring several standards from the "Great American Songbook" as well as such jazz favourites as Horace Silver's "Peace" and "Strollin", Thad Jones' "Three and One", and Lars Gullin's "Fine Together", which provides a significantly appropriate title for this album. Recorded in August 1998.

Anders Lindskog talks slowly. Voice rather dark, tone rather moody, yet not without a quiet dash of humor. In conversation it soon becomes obvious that it is important to him to pick the right words, to avoid unimportant small talk and to give credit where it is due. At the time of writing he is 58 years old.

"My interest in music started when I was around ten years old, my mother was a good piano player, and we had a small, but quite good record collection at home although I listened mostly to the radio..."
- But it was jazz that really turned you on?
- "Well, yes, among those recordings was Duke Ellington's Caravan. I think I was eleven or twelve when one day I played it and discovered that the sound was so entirely different, so excitingly different. This was not the way the classical music used to sound...the pulsating rhythm… But it was a mystery to me how they did it and I had nobody to explain it to me. Then I started going into town to see if I could find anything more of that sort and one day the guy in the record shop suggested that I listen to Woody Herman's recording of Four Brothers. That one really hooked me…"
- When did you start playing the tenor saxophone?
- "Well, actually I played the clarinet before I had a tenor. I think I was thirteen and to get your own horn was a sheer joy. And you could hear Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw everywhere… I slept with that clarinet, and I took lessons from a local military musician who played a little jazz when not on duty. Then I rented a tenor from a music shop in Örebro - buying one was far too expensive."

In the mid-fifties records became more numerous, there were radio broadcasts, and gradually Anders realized that he was in the process of becoming a professional musician… "You know, sometimes I think that it's not something you just decide. There are circumstances influencing you, and all of a sudden you realize… well, you're into it... All the music that Carl-Erik Lindgren and Claes Dahlgren and Olle Helander played on the radio, and the magazines …Orkester Journalen and Estrad… I read them over and over. I developed a deep affinity for Stan Getz' music - the records from The Storyville Club in Boston, oooh… Not that I forgot Charlie Parker, he was so different, he was impossible to copy, he still is… but I hadn't come as far as to distinguish between good or bad, I could just go after my own taste so to speak. And sometimes the articles could leave you so confused, critics attacking each other's opinions and giving you the impression that jazz was an intellectual thing. But I must say that Dizzy Gillespie's visit in 1953 put an end to all that. He showed us that jazz could be about joy and fun and something spontaneous, not the slightest bit academic… If we are not talking about specific instruments Dizzy is still my favorite musician… And then came my 'dream record', the one with Dizzy and Getz together… I have worn out more that one copy of that… contrasting, yet compatible… And then I heard Hank Mobley's music which was more in accord with my mind than that of Sonny Rollins."

In 1957 Anders finished school and got a job with Jean Josephsson's dance band in Borås: "It was a semi-professional band with a certain jazz touch to it. Jean played piano and worked in a music shop where I had to report every day and practice for a couple of hours... A well-rehearsed band, disciplined…"

But it didn't take long before the rumor of this talented youngster began spreading… "I had played a couple of times with a Danish bass player, Erik Mølbach, and he must have mentioned it to somebody in Copenhagen because I got a call to join the Jazz Quintet 60 with trumpeter Allan Botschinsky, pianist Bent Axen, bass player Ole Laumann and drummer Finn Frederiksen…"
- You still remember all the names?
- "Oh yes, certainly. I'll never forget these guys or the nine months I spent in Copenhagen. We played a steady job at the Vingaarden. I just jumped at the chance with almost no notice… And getting settled in Copenhagen was easy, there was the seamen's hotel, cheap and conveniently located, lots of places to hang out, and Stan Getz and Oscar Pettiford were playing at the Club Montmartre, a few minutes walk from Vingaarden. Then one day there was a message for me at the hotel to come to Stockholm, and you know… I had never played in Stockholm, that was something I felt that I just had to do, so I got on the night train and next thing I found myself at Stockholm's central station on a cold and gray October morning with nothing but the phone number of pianist Bosse Söderman. So on the very same night I joined the band Swing Sing Seven - they had Leppe Sundevall on trumpet, Arne Wilhelmsson on bass and Svante Thuresson on drums. Essentially it was a band that played for dancers, but you still played jazz for a dancing audience at that time. In fact, you could make a living from playing for dancers in the Swedish 'Folk Parks'. But, you know, as the sixties went by, the music changed, rock and pop became more prevalent and it ended up not being fun anymore. However, I had some studio jobs, plus for some time I played with the band Harlem Kiddies and did some tours with singer Östen Warnerbring, so I managed to survive, though you could hardly call it making a decent living. But in 1971 I ran into pianist Gugge Hedrenius who was forming his 'Big Blues Band' and I got to play with him for several years. A great band with whom I also recorded 3 LP's during the seventies. And the club 'Stampen' opened around that time, I had several gigs there and started playing with pianist Lars Sjösten… but around that time many people were also into the so-called 'free-jazz' which was definitely not my bag. I wanted to play straight jazz, to maintain a harmonic foundation…and when drummer Albrekt von Konow formed his Albrekts Swing Band I joined him. I played with Sonny Payne for a week, a trio with him and myself and a piano player, he didn't want a bass player… and I played quite a bit with Red Mitchell who had settled in Stockholm by then… also Inge Dahl of the Swedish Radio was very generous to me, making it possible for me to do several radio broadcasts, and I shouldn't forget the wonderful band we had for some time with Lars Erstrand on vibes, Staffan Abeleen on piano, Red on bass and Nils Erik Slörner on drums…".

In 1983 Anders contracted cancer and had to have his left little finger amputated. Weird place for a cancer to start… "Yes, and the doctors couldn't tell me why or how it happened that way, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that a couple of years before I'd had an accident where I hurt the finger badly. I had a couple of operations and then they called me up to come in the next day… I thought it was all finished and I guess I got in to a traumatic state of mind for several months. Then I went to see an instrument maker who said that I'd better give up playing…that wasn't too much fun to hear… but a little later somebody suggested that I go and see this young fellow Jonas Nässlund who had started an instrument repair shop. So we worked at rebuilding the sax mechanism together and I guess he considered it an interesting challenge, but then came the time when I had to 'de-learn' all the reflexes that had been in my fingers for most of my life… that's a hell, I can tell you. But each time it gets a little better… although slowly…".

In 1975 Anders made his first LP in his own name (Amigo AMLP 817, long out of print) and not until 1995 did his name reappear as a leader on a record cover (Cry me a river, Touché TMCD 005). In my review of the latter I expressed the hope that we would hear from him again before too long. So here you are: a great musician (and a lovely human being) playing songs he is comfortable with in the company of two of the best accompanists you can imagine (not to mention their abilities as soloists).

Jesper Lundgaard and Jacob Fischer might not (yet) be the familiar names to Swedish audiences that they are in their native Denmark. Lundgaard (born 1954) played the bass from his teens and had a university education. During the last part of the seventies he gigged in his hometown of Århus with just about every visiting jazzman and before he moved to Copenhagen in 1979 he was for a time a member of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis orchestra. After moving to the Danish capital he became increasingly in demand and listing his credentials could easily fill a full page. Suffice to mention that among the ones he has backed with his big, warm tone, reliable sense of time and imaginative soloing are Chet Baker, Doug Raney, Bernt Rosengren, Duke Jordan , Thad Jones, Wild Bill Davison and Paul Bley. For several years Jesper has also been a member of veteran violinist Svend Asmussen's quartet. Since 1994 he has been leading The Repertory Quartet, a band which specializes in rearranging great jazz tunes by such legends as Thad Jones, Louis Armstrong, Bill Evans, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington. Jesper appears on more than 300 recordings.

Fischer (born 1967) played guitar from the age of 14 and is self-taught apart from the fact that he brought home from the local music library "every guitar LP that I could get my hands on". The first time I heard him in public, (which was when he was a member of Swedish saxophonist Peter Gullin's trio almost ten years ago) he simply knocked me over. For some years he was freelancing in every (jazz) context you can imagine, but like Lundgaard he has since the early nineties been a member of Svend Asmussen's quartet and The Repertory Quartet. Recently no less than the great Phil Woods has asked him to join his new group.

The tunes on this CD need little explanation. Except for the title tune (one of the many great songs from the pen of Swedish baritone legend Lars Gullin) they all come from the great American jazz and evergreen tradition. Songs like "Blame it on my youth" and "I'll close my eyes" are maybe slightly less known than several of the others, yet no less exciting.

A day's work in Jesper Lundgaard's small studio, condensed into just under an hour and a quarter of unreserved honesty. Straight ahead, no frills.

Fine together? Certainly.
Thorbjørn Sjøgren
Copenhagen, December 1998

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CRITICS

Jazz Journal, October 1999:
"[...] this enjoyable selection of American standards, some of them better known than others. The one exception, the legendary Lars Gullin's 'Fine Together', opens the programme and appro-priately describes the rapport between the piano-less trio."

"Stylistically Lindskog is obviously a great admirer of Lester Young, whose allusive, under-stated approach, tinged with melancholy, is reflected in the first track and also much in evidence in numbers like Horace Silver's 'Strollin'."

"There are reminders in his playing too of that honorary Scandinavian Stan Getz ...."

"Lindskog is most ably partnered by two [...] Danes, both in particularly fine improvisatory form on the second Silver track."

"This is unpretentious, reflective club jazz in the mainstream manner, and makes excellent late-night listening."

Cadence, September 1999:
"[...] these three musicians have produced a remarkable CD, playing music that favours medium swing tempos and which moves with a supremely relaxed flow through a series of tunes by Lars Gullin, Lester Young, Benny Carter, Thad Jones, Silver, Pettiford and Ellington."

"Eschewing hard bop for a more yellow genre, this music has virtually no hard edges, though that's not to detract from the kind of precision required to bring it off."

"Lindskog's influences come primarily from the school of Lester - including melodists like Stan Getz and Hank Mobley - but he's a fully matured artist with a sound and voice of his own."

"[...] the level of his [remark: Fischer's] performance is generally very high, recalling the sound and style of some great fifties guitarists like Jimmy Raney and Tad Farlow."

"Lundgaard is both a secure accompanist and a fine soloist (Jones 'Three and One' is an unaccompanied bass solo), anchoring this music with sure hand."

"[...] it's rare music, and a pleasure to hear."