Tag Archives: folk song

SERENADES FROM SWEDEN: ANNA PAULINE ANDERSSON and MATTIAS NILSSON (March 28, 2012)

Beauty is a universal language.  It flourishes in our hearts.  So the fact that I and some JAZZ LIVES readers speak no Swedish will not impede anyone’s enjoyment of the soaring improvisations that follow.  And in these videos, a patient viewer will find in the introduction to #2 all the mysteries of song #1.  Trust me on this.

I had not heard of the singer Anna Pauline Andersson or her fiance, pianist Mattias Nilsson, before March 2012.  But when a friend told me they were coming to the United States for the first time — with plans for a free duet recital at the Church of Sweden in New York City — I became intrigued.  And when I saw their performances on YouTube, I was seriously impressed and moved.  Thus, on March 28, 2012, I and my video camera were in a place not usual for us — recording wondrous music, secular and sacred, all illuminated by the same delight in beauty and in communicating that beauty to us.  Anna Pauline’s voice caresses and soars; Mattias’ piano glitters and investigates.

They began the program with the melancholy Swedish folksong, EMMIGRANTVISA (VI SÅLDE VÅRAN HEMMAN), or SONG OF THE IMMIGRANTS, which describes the hard journey the Swedes had to undergo to get to New York.  Jung would have been pleased that some of the cadences coming out of the collective unconscious sound like ST. JAMES INFIRMARY:

Then, Evert Taube’s 1946 song describing the ocean (a natural thematic connection), SÅ SKIMRANDE VAR ALDRIG HAVET, which Anna Pauline translated as SUCH GLITTERING SEA:

In case the English-only types in the audience were getting restless, Anna and Mattias then turned to a song to celebrate what is their first visit to New York City — the lovely 1925 Rodgers and Hart MANHATTAN, performed with a proper urban lilt and humor:

From one classic to another: STAR DUST, sung and played with great empathy, making the most familiar song new:

LILLA IDAS SOMMARVISA is a  more recent Swedish song by Georg Riedel and Astrid Lindgren, from a 1973 film.  Anna Pauline remade its title into THE SUMMER SONG OF IDA — its message is clear in any language:

Anna didn’t treat the next song as a hymn, but Ellington’s I’M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT could have gotten in on its title alone:

Another version of exultation, sly and whimsical — TAKING A CHANCE ON LOVE:

JAG HAR BOTT VID EN LANDSVÄG, written by Alvar Kraft and Charles Henry (pseud Karl Henrik Henrud) in 1939 — a song from the south of Sweden, where, Anna Pauline tells us, “the people are happy and voluptuous”; I believe the title translates to I GREW UP NEAR A COUNTRY ROAD:

BLOTT EN DAG, the Swedish hymn, (DAY BY DAY AND WITH EACH PASSING MOMENT), by Oscar Ahnfelt and Lina Sandell (1872):

I´LL FLY AWAY, by Albert E. Brumley (1929)

and the 1913 JAG VANTAR VID MIN MILA, which translates as I’M WAITING FOR A WANDERER:

And, as an encore (after Mattias’ confession!) there’s the 1956 jazz tune UNDERBART ÄR KORT, by Povel Ramel: its title translates to THE GOOD THINGS ARE TOO SHORT, which was true of this concert:

Thanks to Anna Pauline and Mattias, to Jack Anderssen, to Laurie Whitlock, and Eva Engman.  And although I don’t usually find myself in churches, this one is a beauty and everyone I encountered was more than gracious.

May your happiness increase.

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“FROM RAGTIME TO JAZZ” WITH ROAD SCHOLAR PROFESSORS KRONINGER, ERICKSON, CALABRESE (March 2, 2012)

Before Dixieland Monterey 2012 began there was musical fun — somewhat like a cross between an aesthetic appetizer and a full-scale concert / lecture — hosted at the Hidden Valley Music Seminars in Carmel Valley, California: a presentation for the Road Scholar Program (formerly Elderhostel).  (Click  here to learn more.)  Let’s just say that I flew out early to be here and video the delightful commotion: the second day of Professors’ Kroninger (Sue, vocal, washboard, kazoo); Erickson (Eddie, banjo, vocal); Calabrese (Chris, tour director, piano) showing us the roads from ragtime to jazz.

Although they call themselves Professors, the atmosphere was light-years away from academic seriousness (I know from experience); I had a wonderful time: you will, too.

Professor Kroninger began by introducing the band (very cleverly) which led into Improvisations on RED RIVER VALLEY:

Romping with Professor Calabrese on TIGER RAG, THE PEARLS (an extraordinary feature for Professor Erickson), and some takeout Chinese for Louis: CORNET CHOP SUEY:

MEMPHIS BLUES (Prof. Kroninger belting it out in a melifluous way); explaining the washboard — as “the poor man’s drum kit”; and a trio examination of that vexing question (both geographical and existential) WHERE DID ROBINSON CRUSOE GO (With Friday on Saturday Night)?

Down came the theoretical curtain for a breath . . . .

The second half began with an entirely generous introduction of the man behind the camera (leading to a surprise question about a Guy Lombardo ragtime medley on cassette); then more Louis with BIG BUTTER AND EGG MAN (team-teaching by Professors Kroninger and Erickson); an unexpected cellphone call; something for Bix — a beautiful reading of SINGIN’ THE BLUES by Professor Calabrese; a demonstration of stride piano with MAPLE LEAF RAG and a compelling bit of Wallering around on HANDFUL OF KEYS:

Finally, a kazoo lesson for all of us (DO try this at home, but make sure that you have a kazoo first), culminating in an ensemble performance of ALEXANDER’S RAGTIME BAND:

It’s my pleasure to present the entire — informal — concert, all eighty-six minutes of it.  It’s not the same as being there . . . so make plans for 2013!  But as you can tell, a good time was had by all.  And everyone got an “A,” onstage and off.