Tomas Janzon was born and raised in Stockholm where he originally studied and played cello until switching to guitar as a teenager. Before moving to the United States in the 1990s he was busy in Sweden as a guitarist and a composer for television and films. He spent 1995-2008 in the Los Angeles area where he studied with Joe Diorio and was a faculty member of the Musicians Institute, and has been based in New York since 2010.
An excellent post bop guitarist who had led five previous small group albums, Janzon is featured on Nomadic with two different sets of bassists and drummers. The five numbers with bassist Hillard Greene and drummer Chuck McPherson also feature the great veteran vibraphonist Steve Nelson (who is also heard on a duet with Janzon) while the other five numbers have the guitarist playing with bassist Jeff Littleton and drummer Tony Austin.
The music, which is mostly comprised of Janzon originals, is intimate, sometimes sparse, and often explorative. To name a few highpoints, “Out Door Valley” builds up momentum as it progresses, “Rob’s Piano” has a shuffle from McPherson that is purposely influenced by Art Blakey, “Night Watch” is a thoughtful jazz waltz in 9/4 time, and the attractive “Blue Frog Return” is lightly swinging. The Janzon-Nelson duet performance of “Letter From JSB” is a tribute to Johann Sebastian Bach, the quartet with Nelson is swinging and inventive on a medley of Lee Konitz’s “Subconscious-Lee” and Tadd Dameron’s “Hot House,” and there are also fine versions of McCoy Tyner’s “Search For Peace” and Sonny Rollins’ highly appealing “Valse Hot.”
Nomadic is filled with bright moments, subtle creativity, and the joy of finally getting to make music together after the COVID era.
Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian
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