Lennart Jansson

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Lennart Jansson is a name of medium proportions by Swedish standards. Added to that is a dual middle name of Joel Harald, perhaps part of the divine plan because there would be room for that name and…
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Lennart Jansson is a name of medium proportions by Swedish standards. Added to that is a dual middle name of Joel Harald, perhaps part of the divine plan because there would be room for that name and more inside a baritone saxophone case. The handsome and thus popular Lars Gullin -- the Scandinavian Chet Baker, except also on baritone sax -- is used as a standard-bearer against which Jansson is rated highly, as when none other than famous jazz critic Leonard Feather describes the latter as "best of the new baritone men of the post-Gullin school." What sounds like a way of training pen pals for hungry sea birds may simply be a smokescreen for some typical jazz back-slapping, baritone saxophonist Jansson having actually performed on one of the projects Feather carried out recording his own music. Swedish Punch was the name of Feather's collusion with the Swedish jazz scene, hopefully in reference to an alcoholic drink and not a recording studio altercation.

In the latter case, Feather may have been trying to make up for something when he chose his own album as an example of Jansson's best recorded solo, sidestepping a discography that also includes the doubly handsome meeting of Gullin and Baker as well as a pile of sides by the Swedish Radio Orchestra under the direction of Harry Arnold. Jansson and Arnold's relationship went back to the '50s, when Jansson on alto saxophone substituted for Arnold in Olle Gordon's band. This example of sideman intrigue on the Malmö scene pretty much represents the professional beginnings of Jansson. Before that it was the Gothenburg Music Conservatory and the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm. Between all that and the army, he learned at least a half dozen instruments. As the '50s progressed he performed and recorded with Malte Johnson, Seymour Osterwall, Arne Domnérus, and others. During 1958 Jansson toured Germany with the brilliant Kurt Weill.