Two more excellent Swedish albums to jolt the British jazz fraternity out of their feeling of security. Hallberg, of course, has an unimpeachable pedigree. He appeared, to international eyes at least, as a bastion of the fine Swedish modern jazz movement of the 1950s (along with Lars Gullin, Arne Domnerus and Ake Persson). He is one of Stan Getz’s favourite pianists. But, like Hank Jones, the last 25 years have seen his style broadening to encompass the great mainstream of jazz piano with total maturity and conviction.
He has a beautiful touch and sense of dynamics, and his eclectic and individual style now owes as much to Teddy Wilson and Erroll Garner as it does to Bud Powell. His solo album evinces most strongly his debt to Wilson, which is tantamount to saying he has mastered the use of his left hand. He also has a tasteful ear for the bent chord (Tea For Two and Jeepers Creepers).
Norwegian Karin Krog (should it be Norwegienne?) is an excellent singer with fine intonation and phrasing, although it’s a little incongruous to hear the long New York vowels from Nordic lips (or Anglo-Saxon ones for that matter).
The choice of tunes on both recordings is super – the sure sign of a seasoned and confident professional. This is the first time I have listened at length to Hallberg, and I conclude that he is worthy competition for Keith Ingham, Brian Lemon and Lennie Felix.
Ralph M. Laing
EGENHÄNDIGT: Thou Swell; Cabin In The Sky; Something’s Gotta Give; Did I Remember; Heaven (I’ve Got A Shoes); So Rare; Some Other Time (21.23) – (What Can I Say Dear) After I Say I’m Sorry; Valsette; Slummin’ On Park Avenue; Tea For Two; Bewitched; Jeepers Creepers; My Guy’s Come Back (22.31)
Hallberg (p). Stockholm, 1975-6.
A SONG FOR YOU Feeling Too Good Today Blues; Stardust; I Won’t Dance; A Child Is Born; I Have The Feeling I’ve Been Here Before (20.45) – I Ain’t Here; Medley – Blue And Sentimental I Sentimental And Melancholy; Scandia Skies; I Was Doing All Right; Lush Life; I’ve Got A Right To Sing The Blues (20.30)
Bengt Hallberg (p); Karin Krog (vl. Stockholm, 18 and 19/7/77.
Phontastic Phont 7512