I enjoyed Swedish vocalist Nyberg’s contributions to Bengt Berger’s recent release of the lively 2002 Stockholm concert that is Viltvarning. She made her recording debut in the early 1990s with Close, a duo session with Esbjörn Svensson, and subsequently has shone as an exploratory and captivating performer, embracing “spoken word” and full-on vocalese. An accomplished composer for jazz ensemble with string quartet, big band and orchestra, Nyberg has won a Swedish Grammy, is a recipient of the Lars Gullin Prize and has been awarded the Swedish Royal Academy of Music Jazz Prize.
Featuring some of Sweden’s most notable performers, Nyberg’s quartet has been with her for nearly 15 years, touring internationally and – on this evidence – developing a rare chemistry. They appeared with Umeå’s Norrland Opera Symphony Orchestra on Nyberg’s remarkable Terrestrial project of 2017 and on Anniverse, the singer’s 22nd release, the singer and quartet fashioned the material together.
Nyberg and her band can swing and get funky when they wish, as on October Storm and November, the latter inducing both fine vocalese from the leader and a tasty pizzicato spot from Kallerdahl. But the essence of this music (with all Nyberg’s lyrics in English except for the Swedish Maj) lies in its spare, intimate and intelligently wrought revisioning of the potential of both the jazz vocal and instrumental accompaniment.
If this is epitomised by the radical treatment of April In Paris, which includes electronic “noises off” and an “art song” treatment of the lyric, it is equally evident in the considered touches of distilled tonal colour and fresh intervallic dynamics which complement Nyberg’s musings, not so much on seasonal variations of time and the weather, but rather, love and longing, fulfilment and loss. A singular and compelling venture, epitomised by the bittersweet Julian.
Januari; The February March; April In Paris; Maj; June; Julian; August; September; The October Storm; November; Dear December (41.28)
Nyberg (v); Cecilia Persson (p); David Stackenäs (elg); Josef Kallerdahl (b); Peter Danemo (d, elec). Stockholm, February 2022.