Whygold’s Weekend

Whygold’s Weekend

… under this motto I present you my music tip for the weekend.

Maybe one or the other discovers something new.

Consciously listening to music is, in my opinion, as important as reading a good book.

Today: Nils Landgren – Funky Abba


Nils Landgren (born February 15, 1956 in Degerfors, Värmland) is a Swedish trombonist and singer. He is one of the most successful European jazzmusicians. His best known formation is the Nils Landgren Funk Unit. He is nicknamed “Mr. Red Horn” because of his red trombone.

Landgren was born into a music-loving family; his father was a jazz cornetist. He began playing drums at age six and switched to trombone at 13. From 1972 to 1978 he studied classical trombone in Karlstad and Arvika. Influenced by encounters with Bengt-Arne Wallin and Eje Thelin, he then switched to jazz. After moving to Stockholm, Landgren began his professional career with, among other things, a tour with Swedish pop star Björn Skifs (US pop chart number one with “Hooked on a Feeling”) and in 1981 as lead trombonist with Thad Jonesbig band project“Ball of Fire.” The trombonist went on to work with ABBA (for Voulez-Vous), The Crusaders, Eddie Harris and Herbie Hancock. His album debut “Planet Rock” (1983) was followed by “Streetfighter” (1984), “You Are My Nr 1” (1985), “Miles from Duke” (with Bengt-Arne Wallin 1987), “Chapter Two 1” (1987), “Chapter Two 2” and “Follow Your Heart” (1989). The album Chapter Two (in duo with Johan Norberg) was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1990. In 1995 Landgren joined the German independent jazz label ACT Music as an exclusive artist, to which he remains loyal to this day.

In 1992, the trombonist founded the Nils Landgren Unit and successfully performed with it at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles. However, the international breakthrough did not come until 1994, when the band performed at the German JazzBaltica Festival in Salzau and was renamed the “Nils Landgren Funk Unit”. With the 1995 debut album “Live in Stockholm” (with Maceo Parker as guest) the band became internationally known. The album also marked the start of the collaboration with the ACT label. The first studio album “Paint it Blue” followed a year later, a tribute to the bebop saxophonist Cannonball Adderley with guest musicians such as the Brecker Brothers and Till Brönner. With this album Landgren won the German Jazz Award for the first time. One of the highlights of the Funk Unit’s career was their performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1998. The live recording was released in 1998 under “Live in Montreux”. With Esbjörn Svensson, Fred Wesley and Roy Hargrove, among others, Nils Landgren released “5000 Miles” in 1999, for which he was nominated for an ECHO. With “Funky ABBA” Landgren paid tribute to the famous Swedish pop band in 2004. In cooperation with “Doctors Without Borders“, “Funk For Life” (2010) supported a charitable music project in the slum of Kibera(Nairobi). Landgren regularly travels there with his Funk Unit to make music with local children and young people. Since late 2010, the Funk Unit lineup has remained unchanged, with bassist and vocalist Magnum Coltrane Price, woodwinds Magnus Lindgren and Jonas Wall, Sebastian Studnitzky on keyboards, guitarist Andy Pfeiler, and drummer Robert Mehmet Ikiz. In this formation and with Crusaders legends Joe Sample and Wilton Felder as well as Till Brönner as guests, “Teamwork” was released in May 2013.

Nils Landgren’s vocals were first heard on the original recording of the ABBA song “Voulez Vous,” on which he also plays trombone. In 1985-87 he performed for 360 shows of the Swedish hit stage play “SKÅL” as a singer, actor, trombonist and dancer. Starting with the album “Ballads” (1993), he now concentrated on ballad singing in addition to his instrumental activities and his vocal efforts in the Funk Unit. He continued this with Rigmor Gustafsson on 2003’s “I Will Wait For You,” 2002’s “Sentimental Journey” and 2011’s “The Moon, The Stars, And You.” On the 2005 album “Creole Love Call” with Joe Sample, he also proved himself as a blues singer.

Landgren repeatedly refers to his homeland – for the first time on “Gotland” (with Tomasz Stańko, 1996) and later on the two duo albums “Layers of Light” and “Swedish Folk Modern” with pianist Esbjörn Svensson, on which the two interpret traditional Swedish song material. In 2005 he initiated the CD and concert series “Christmas with My Friends” with steadily increasing success, in which he interprets Christmas songs with Scandinavian musicians. A very special project is “Salzau Music on The Water”, recorded live at JazzBaltica 2006 with Lars Danielsson and Christopher Dell. The spontaneous improvisation of rare calm and meditative power was recorded in the early morning hours. Nils Landgren can also be heard as a guest musician on numerous albums, such as those by Viktoria Tolstoy, Ida Sand, Wolfgang Haffner and Joe Sample, in whose band Crusaders he was a member for many years.

In 2015 Landgren also performed with the Bochumer Symphoniker at the Konzerthaus Dortmund, with whom he was able to perform his and Vince Mendoza’s compositions in a large orchestral setting.

Nils Landgren tours worldwide with various big band formations and is engaged as a guest soloist. He got his first job as lead trombonist in Thad Jones’ big band in the early 80s. From 1998 to 2001 Landgren was a member of the NDR Big Band in Hamburg. For the 2008/2009 concert season, he was engaged as a dual leader to conduct the NDR Big Band, along with conductor and arranger Jörg Achim Keller. To this day, Landgren regularly performs with the NDR Big Band. In 2006 he participated with the WDR Big Band Cologne in the last recording of saxophonist Eddie Harris (“Last Concert”). In 2011 Landgren stood by the Bohuslän Big Band as artistic director, with whom he released the Cole Porter tribute“Don’t Fence Me In,” arranged by Colin Towns.

In addition to his numerous releases as a trombonist and singer, Nils Landgren has also appeared as a producer, including for albums by Swedish singers Viktoria Tolstoy and Ida Sand, Wolfgang Haffner and newcomers Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr, Adam Bałdych and Mo’ Blow.

Nils Landgren was artistic director of Jazzfest Berlin in 2001 and from 2008 to 2011, succeeding Peter Schulze. He has also been the artistic director of JazzBaltica since 2012. Since 2006 he teaches jazz trombone as a lecturer and from 2014 as a professor at the Musikhochschule Hamburg.

Landgren is married to actress Beatrice Järås (1979[3]) and lives with her in the Österlen region.

(Source: Wikipedia)

I’m honestly not a big Abba fan. But the songs are really strong, and what Nils Landgren has done with them is really great.

I might as well listen to the whole album.

This grooves like hell – old swede. 😉

Have fun listening to this album !

Your Chris Weigold

P.S.: Maybe you enjoy the listening pleasure together with a glass of wine from our “Orchestra of Cultures Edition”.