Redhorn Collection

Redhorn Collection

Nils Landgren

Label: ACT music
Format: CD
Barcode: 0614427601322
Catalog number: ACT 60132
Releasedate: 28-11-14
  • Two hours musical enjoyment with Mr. Redhorn 
  • CD 1: The Funk Unit / CD 2: The Ballads 
  • Nils Landgren is a name that has become synonymous with versatility, curiosity and vigour 
  • Nils Landgren was one of the first exclusive artists to the Munich label, which launched in 1992 

Two hours musical enjoyment with Mr. Redhorn and Maceo Parker, Brecker Brothers, Joe Sample, Roy Hargrove, Fred Wesley, Ray Parker Jr., Bernard Purdie, Till Brönner, Rigmor Gustafsson, Ida Sand, Esbjörn Svensson, Lars Danielsson, Per Ruskträsk Johansson, Magnum Coltrane Price, Magnus Lindgren, Wolfgang Haffner, Michael Wollny, NDR Bigband amongst others.

Nils Landgren is a name that has become synonymous with versatility, curiosity and vigour. Whether with his Funk Unit, his jazz ballad projects, big bands or his countless other contributions as sideman, soloist and bandleader – the likable Swede with the bright red trombone has constantly been on the move for more than 30 years. He is one of the most successful European jazz musicians, born Värmland in 1956, Landgren has made around 550 records and received a plethora of jazz awards and other honours, including the Swedish Grammy for his lifetime achievement. And at his side for the last two decades: ACT Music. The first time Siggi Loch heard Landgren play was at the JazzBaltica in 1994, with the band that at the time was still simply called "Unit". It was to be the beginning of a loyal partnership for life, "Call it what it is" Loch said to him succinctly after the rousing concert. Funk Unit was born and a beautiful collaboration along with it. Landgren embodies the ACT philosophy like no other: a musician and entertainer who touches and enraptures people with his artistic independence.

Nils Landgren was one of the first exclusive artists to the Munich label, which launched in 1992. "Live in Stockholm" by his Funk Unit with Maceo Parker as special guest, recorded in summer 1994, was the foundation stone of the cooperation, and in the time that followed, Landgren became a star with the unwavering support of ACT behind him, and reciprocally his outstanding abilities consolidated ACT's reputation as one of the world's most renowned independent jazz labels.

"Siggi Loch gave me the power to surpass myself, and that is bearing a lot of fruits now," Landgren summarises their joint success story, but he isn't only active for ACT as a musician, he is also a producer and scout. Through Funk Unit, Loch's attention was called to Esbjörn Svensson, and the singers Viktoria Tolstoy, Rigmor Gustafsson and Ida Sand also came to ACT from Landgren's sphere of activity. Today, ACT is the biggest exporter of jazz from Sweden; thanks in no small degree to Landgren.

Mr. Redhorn is one of the most active live artists in contemporary jazz, in part also thanks to his concert management partner Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion. He averages 200 days a year on the road around the music world, and is one of a small number of jazz artists who reach an audience that by far transcends the jazz "scene", without making personal or artistic compromises. For two hearts beat in Landgren's breast: when the audience experiences him with his Funk Unit, he shows himself from his action-hero, striking, relentlessly grooving side; but there is also a gentle, melancholy, highly sentimental Nils Landgren, who comes out in his ballad projects, when he touches the soul with his so typically fragile voice and incomparably lithe trombone, or at Christmas, when Landgren sets the yuletide mood with his Christmas With My Friends ensemble.

And as if all that were not enough, the philanthropist Landgren even finds time for a good cause: with his project "Funk for Life", he joins forces with Doctors without Borders to help young Africans gain a musical education. 
There is a synonym for the words diversity, curiosity and zeal: Nils Landgren. James Brown used to be considered the “hardest working man in showbusiness” and it now appears that the god of funk has bequeathed this title to a Swede who cheerfully travels the world with a bright red trombone. “Mr. Red Horn” swings brilliantly from one perspective to the next, also because he needs this constant change. Somehow, Nils Landgren, 55 years-old, also miraculously manages to divide his time – when he is not touring with his “Funk Unit” or other projects under his own name, he is very much in demand as a producer or talent scout. He passes his expertise on to students in Hamburg and Shanghai, advises the NDR Big Band on artistic matters (with which he also played as musician for several years), works with the versatile Swedish Bohuslän Big Band (most recently with arranger Colin Towns on “Don’t Fence Me In – the Music of Cole Porter” ACT 9028-2) and also compiles, as artistic director, the programme of the JazzFest Berlin (until 2011). “Even when I’m not bored it’s good for me to do several things at once so that I can have different perspectives as these change the way I sing and play the trombone and my audience also benefits from it,” he says.
For those who have been musically loyal to him for years, things never get boring. With Nils Landgren they have someone who feels as dedicated to the rich folklore tradition of his homeland as to the previously unheard. An idealist who ignores the boundaries between the genres and who has collaborated in joint projects with musicians such as Maceo Parker, Colin Towns, the Brecker Brothers, Airto Moreira, Till Brönner, Roy Hargrove, Fred Wesley, Steve Gadd, Richard Galliano, Michael Wollny, Joao Bosco, Benny Anderson (from ABBA), Viktoria Tolstoy, Joe Sample, Ray Parker Jr., Eddie Harris and Esbjörn Svensson and, in doing so, has continually broadened his horizons.

Landgren embodies not one but two souls. When the audience sees him with his “Funk Unit”, the Swede shows himself from his masculine and distinct, relentlessly grooving side and acts the jazz action hero. However, there is also a gentle melancholic, highly sentimental Nils Landgren. He can be seen during Advent time, for example, when the instrumentalist and singer celebrates “Christmas With My Friends” or on ballad albums like the current “The Moon, The Stars And You” (ACT 9505-2) as well as “Ballads“ (ACT 9268-2) and “Sentimental Journey” (9409-2) – in which he intones on the trombone with incomparable smoothness and his highly individual, fragile voice touches the heart and the soul with a remarkable sensibility.
Landgren came into contact with music already early on. He started playing the drums when he was only six years-old, the nightmare of all parents. It was when he was 13 years-old that Nils Landgren, born in 1956 in Degerfors, Värmland, under the star sign of Aquarius, realised his calling and changed to the trombone. Between 1972 and 1978, he gained a sound classical basis at various teaching establishments and quickly put these newly acquired technical skills on the trombone into practice, also in other areas. Encounters with folk jazz pioneer Bengt-Arne Wallin and trombonist Eje Thelin accelerated his musical career change. A change of location was also due and Nils Landgren moved to Stockholm where, within only a short time, he became known as the “man for all occasions”, a true one-off, someone who is able to stand out in almost any stylistic environment, a studio whizz. In 1981 he was taken on as the lead trombonist for the “Ball of Fire” project of the legendary Thad Jones which really proved to be a challenge. “After the first evening all I wanted to do was go home,” laughs Landgren. However, it is challenges like the one with Jones that made him such an accomplished musician, someone who is today not worried by new challenges. Bring them on!

The solo career of the man who has always gone right up to his limits and beyond, both musically and conditionally, has been going strong for almost thirty years. Nils Landgren’s debut, “Planet Rock” from 1983, marked the starting point of a very impressive discography including projects which could hardly be any more different from one another. The duo recordings, for example “Layers of Light“ (ACT 9281-2) and “Swedish Folk Modern” (ACT 9428-2) with pianist Esbjörn Svensson who tragically died far too young, as well as the album “Gotland” (ACT 9226-2), reveal someone who is very closely connected to their homeland, who moves through Scandinavian’s sound worlds, drifts into the ethereal and into the incomprehensible. On “Salzau Music On The Water” (ACT 9445-2) he met vibraphonist Christopher Dell and bassist Lars Danielsson on an installation on the water near Schloss Salzau and played ethereal sounds into time, a time during which night is falling asleep and the new morning is still yawing. The three were totally at one with nature during the recording.

However, the same Nils Landgren is also able to quickly come back down to earth again. To make a reference, for example, to the world famous fellow Swedes from ABBA with “Funky ABBA” (ACT 9430-2) or honour Cannonball Adderley with the album “Paint it Blue” (ACT 9243-2) by his multi award winning group “Funk Unit”, originally simply called “Unit”. Landgren gave the group its current name for the JazzBaltica Festival which also gave him his international breakthrough in 1994. This band does not, incidentally, only achieve great things from a musical viewpoint – the album “Funk For Life” (9500-2) supported, together with Doctors without Borders, a project to help musically promote children and teenagers in “Kibera”, one of the biggest slums in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. For each sold CD, one euro went to the good cause.

“Teamwork” (ACT 9552-2), released in spring 2013, is another milestone in the Funk Unit history: technically outstanding, this is a group of team players who combine well with a great groove connection. James Brown meets Parliament meets Crusaders meets Funk Unit: that's one way you could describe the musical concept on "Teamwork". It is pure party feeling, the notes whirl coolly through the ranks, superb horn sets alternate with ecstatic solos, dance beats, smooth vocals and strong melodies, but there is also time for elegance and heartfelt blues. "Teamwork" is all that and then some, played by a dream team of sweat-inducing funk workers with soul in their blood.

With his album, “The Moon, the Stars and You” (ACT 9505-2), released in August 2011, Nils Landgren again shows himself from his sensitive and fragile side. The ballad album is a continuation of “Sentimental Journey“ – one of the most successful albums of his career. Together with pianist Michael Wollny, bassist Lars Danielsson and renowned guests such as Richard Galliano, Steve Gadd, Joe Sample, Joao Bosco, Cæcilie Norby, the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and the NDR Big Band, Nils Landgren interprets jazz standards, folk and pop and, of course, several of his own compositions. These are all carefully tuned, full of longing, occasionally funky and effervescent, yet always inspirational and swinging.

What will Nils Landgren come up with next? Where will his musical and artistic talents take him? Which hurdles does he feel he must still overcome? The Swedish all rounder has proven himself in so many different areas that his audience now believes he is capable of anything and more. Fact is: his greatest weakness may also be his greatest strength – he is bad at one thing: saying no.