Jan Johansson

Younger Than Springtime: 1959-1961

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When the 16 selections heard on Younger Than Springtime were recorded from 1959-61, Jan Johansson was in transition. The pianist's revolutionary jazz treatments of traditional Swedish folk songs were a few years away, and he had yet to experiment with modal playing and avant-garde jazz. At that point, Johansson was still playing mostly hard bop, which is the style that dominates Younger Than Springtime. This CD gets off to an impressive start with four recordings from Johansson's first session with alto saxophonist Arne Domnerus in 1959: "Where or When," "There's a Small Hotel," "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "Exactly Like You." After that, Johansson is heard as a trio pianist in 1959 and 1960 with Dan Jordan or Sture Nordin on bass and William Schiopffe or Egil Johansen on drums. The Swede's expressive pianism demonstrates that while Bud Powell had been a big influence on him, he was quite willing to incorporate the ideas of others who came along -- and in 1959 and 1960, those pianists ranged from Bill Evans to Red Garland. Like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Johansson was far from complacent; he believed in challenging himself and continuing to forge ahead. Younger Than Springtime is a CD that lovers of hard bop piano will find consistently satisfying.

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