Göran Klinghagen: Hälsingland – By The Lake Beside The Trees

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Judging a book (or rather, a CD) by its cover, Hälsingland seems like a record with its feet firmly grounded in traditional Scandinavian folk music: Its track listing of Swedish folk songs, and its cover photo – taken by Klinghagen himself – depicting a vast lake stretching beyond a dense forest, seem to suggest little else.

However, Klinghagen and his band have taken these songs and interpreted them for the contemporary jazz landscape. Listeners unfamiliar with the originals might not even recognise them as Swedish folk, now that they have been adorned with jazzy motifs and improvisational flourishes.

There are passages of funky percussive riffs and smoky blues. Då Väntar Jag Vid Vägarna – originally sung by Anders Börje – has been transformed into a sweet bossa nova that João Gilberto and Stan Getz would be proud of, complete with a delicate alto solo played by Markus Harm. Elsewhere, tracks such as Visa Från Rättvik and De Sålde Sina Hemman have been treated with woozy and ethereal electronics.

The texts themselves have not so much been translated as interpreted for the English language, by German jazz singer Fola Dada. This is perhaps a wise choice, given how clunky the lyrics might have otherwise turned out. There are instances where the tightness of these new lyrics seems to slip, but Dada sings them with a soft sweetness that runs consistent throughout the whole album.

Hälsingland stays largely true to the core melodies of its traditional folk repertoire. But by building around these melodies, Klinghagen, his band and Dada have created something entirely of their own.

Discography
Uti Vår Hage ( Reasons To Live); Då Väntar Jag Vid Vägarna (Road To My Heart); Visa Vid Vindens Ängar (The Gift Of Life); Visa Från Rättvik (Mensch); Allt Under Himmelens Fäste (Forlorn); De Sålde Sina Hemman (Hope); Visa Vid Midsommartid (Dream); Jag Vet En Dejlig Rosa; Hälsingland (On The Ground) (38.55)
Klinghagen (g); Fola Dada (v); Markus Harm (s, f); Joo Kraus (t, elec); Veit Hübner (b); Torsten Krill (d, pc). Studio Klangküche, Stuttgart, 2018-2019.
Country & Eastern CE 42