Love Birds by Jonathan Fritzén – reviewed by Chris Mann
multi-instrumentalist and composer Jonathan Fritzén grew up in a
musical family and started playing drums as a young child. He soon
added piano, flute, bass and guitar to his list of instruments, and
started singing less than a year before ‘Love Birds’ was finished.
has a thorough education behind him from the Royal Academy of Music in
Stockholm, being one of the first students to receive a masters degree
from the jazz department. He was also the first "non-classical"
musician in Sweden to receive an artist grant from the Royal Music
backed up some of the biggest stars in Sweden (and also international
celebrities like Bonnie Tyler). This is his first solo release.
instrumental opener ‘Temple of Dreams’ puts us deep into Brian
Culbertson territory. There’s that urban bassline with sweet piano
over the top and it epitomises for me the best of what we all came to
call “smooth jazz” over the last 15 years. Unbelievably catchy –
lovely. This mood continues on the slightly more upbeat ‘One Night
with You’. I’m more aware of drums and nice bass on here – and
Jonathan adds a little vocal on the chorus – but that piano is the
star. The acoustic guitar solo is pretty, and seems to come courtesy
of Jonathan too. Are you getting the idea?
are more vocal touches on ‘Like a Star’ which bounces along prettily
and showcases Fritzen’s talent for melody very effectively. On the
other hand, ‘Back 2 The Club’ is more of a vehicle for rhythm. I’m
certain that the drums and bass are synthesized on this track.
Usually I say that critically, but here the sound suits the track
perfectly. This is one song that would sound great with a horn
section, but I prefer no horns to fake horns…
you’d expect, ‘Midnight Secrets’ is very sexy, especially the intro
with its layers of keyboard textures and then an insistent bass-driven
groove with that lovely piano floating over the top. Great production
job, I have to say, with all that space. That doesn’t always happen
on a track with a strong rhythm. There are some nice minor chords and
a couple of breakdowns. If this were spread over 10 minutes during a
live show, I think it would be spellbinding. I mean, really
title track, the melody is strong and the vibe is strongly romantic.
The electronic keyboards are slightly more expressive than the
acoustic piano. I find myself wishing
that this piano would ‘cry’ like Marcus Johnson’s Yamaha C1 – ah, it’s
a hard thing to describe. Electronic keyboards open the atmospheric
‘Distant Mountains’ which has much of the instant appeal of the
album’s opener. Now, God knows there is almost nothing I like as much
as driving through the Nevada desert and seeing the mountains at the
limit of my vision. If I ever go again, this track is coming with
me. I’d like to hear Jonathan take chances playing this live. He has
the chops for sure…
intro to ‘Deep Down’ reminds me of an old Neil Larsen tune, and I find
myself really getting into this slow number despite its broken rhythm
pattern. I’d love to hear live drums and bass on this song.
Melodically it’s strong but there’s room for more feeling here. The
groove on ‘Always Be My Lover’ is impeccable – Fritzén
has listened to what makes the best smooth jazz numbers the
best and stamped his own piano sound on there. The bass sounds just
like Nathan East on a Fourplay tune, for example. I don’t think it’s
Nathan and I don’t even know if it’s bass guitar – and I don’t care.
This is fantastic – my favourite song on the CD I think.
dreamy ‘Far Way’ is another strong statement of melody. The synth
strings add that cinematic touch and, as I often do, I pick out a song
that would fit well into a movie soundtrack. One of my other
favourite things to do is sit in a movie theatre until the credits are
over. If this were playing, I reckon I’d stay until the lights came
up. Here is a player who knows how to portray romance and his
strongest portrayal on this album is ‘Take Me Home’. It’s a touch
bluesy, a touch gospel even. It’s the first time I noticed that
right-hand ‘roll’ he does on the piano. Please, more of this and make
that piano weep on your next CD.
who’s delivered all this music on his debut solo recording – and
produced it – is only 25 years old. He’s written and performed it
all, and done it with style. If at any point I’ve sounded critical or
tried to compare Fritzén’s
sound unfavourably with that of more established jazz stars, let me
tell you this: this CD dropped through my door just days ago and I
played it straight through three times before I listened to any other
music. I like it that much. Find out more at
Nordic Night Records – NNR100 Producer – Jonathan Fritzén