Album Review of
Jazz På Nysvenska (Jazz In The New Sweden)

Written by Robert Silverstein
December 16, 2020 - 12:04am EST
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Back in the mid to late 1970’s Swedish guitarist / composer Peter Bryngelsson was helping to redefine the role of Swedish progressive instrumental rock on the world stage. Although he’s developed a unique solo artist career in the past three decades, Peter’s most influential bands, from the 1970s and ‘80s, Ragnarök and Triangulus were praised by instrumental prog-rock fans world-wide. After releasing several fine solo albums, Peter is back in 2020 with a new album called Jazz På Nysvenska (Jazz In The New Sweden), credited to an ensemble he has created called Jordmån, a word as Peter puts it "It is a special Swedish word that means 'quality of soil'. Featuring Peter playing a wide range of fretboard instruments, both acoustic and electric, Jazz På Nysvenska isn’t so much a jazz album as it is a jazzy take on intrinsic Swedish folk music melodies. The rub here is that these new recordings, including some melodic ideas newly composed by Peter, focus on reworking classic melodies from the archives of traditional Swedish folk music. Commenting on the history of his involvement on Jazz På Nysvenska, Peter told me, It was both that I learnt that my little village was known for a lot of folk music and I wanted to learn to play them on Dobro, and also that the neo-fascist party in Sweden claimed that old Swedish folk music was their natural politic choice. I wanted to take it back”. A wide diversity of music is further fleshed out thanks to the album featuring a range of Swedish music heroes that appear, including Swedish music legends Jörgen Adolfsson (Archimedes Badkar), Pelle Bolander (Urban Turban), Staffan Strindberg (Ragnarök) and new players like Nils Personne (Sabbath hela veckan) Kristina Aspeqvist and Gus Loxbo, as well as legendary musicians admired by Peter including Marie Selander (Spjärnsvallet), Kenny Håkansson (Kebnekajse) and Tommy Adolfsson (Berits Halsband). Also featured are musicians that have fled from war-torn countries like Mukiryan Abubakr from Kurdistan and Soher Chkair from Syria. Although Bryngelsson is an excellent composer of instrumental rock music, on Jazz På Nysvenska he sounds inspired by the dark and depressing year that 2020 turned out to be. Commenting on the unique history of the album Peter told me “All the songs are old Swedish folk songs so the lyrics are also old Swedish traditionals. It is Marie Selander, Soher Chkair and Jonna Sandell who sing. The most important lyric, “Emigrantvisan” is about the Swedes who left Sweden to go to the USA around 1900-1920. In 1964, the Swedish Jazz piano player Jan Johansson released the LP Jazz In Swedish which was jazz adaptations of old Swedish folk songs. We do exactly the same songs but updated to what Sweden is today. All are traditionals except for sections where I did new themes on the old lines.” The tragedies of 2020 will end on a brighter note and maybe one day Peter Bryngelsson will return to his electric guitar style and the instrumental progressive rock roots of Ragnarök but nevertheless, Jazz På Nysvenska is a fascinating sonic journey into the mind of one of Sweden’s most eclectic rock composers and guitarists.