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Saturday, November 16, 2013

I vote for Jan. By John von Daler

                   I commute between the extreme dictatorship of art that I work with and the extreme democracy of the society I live in. Keeping these two areas separate seems imperative if you think, as I do, that art usually worsens when everyone has a say, while society often improves. So I have chosen to live in Denmark where I create various forms of thought, artifice and artifacts.

                Working here, I look with considerable envy across the sound at Sweden and what they create there. Here in Denmark the moat between art and society is filled with struggling interlopers bearing causes from one side to the other. So you can find all of Copenhagen having a say on the architecture of some public building.
                In Sweden they seem to have kept their national moat free from trespassers; artists regularly create the most inventive of works in solitary command of just one vision. Think of Bergman's whole string of films, plays and books: not much compromise there.
                Or take Jan #Johansson, the Swedish jazz genius. While Danish jazz greats were working through mostly American structures and themes, Johansson turned his back on American music as a source, using it as an inspiration more for form than content. He turned to Swedish folk music for his inspiration.
                Americans have done this too. Bill Evans and Art Farmer have both been in Sweden to suck the pollen from the Swedish wild flowers. But only Johansson has been able to create a new form, a hybrid made out of his native folk music and jazz piano-playing as soft and subdued as a summer night in Småland.
                Countries that can incorporate their own folk music in their other musical forms have the most viable and presentable music traditions. Countries that cannot do not.
                Try listening to "Jazz på Svenska" by Jan Johansson. Think of blond hair, the midnight sun, quiet and cool blue lakes. Say skoal with a little snaps made from woodland herbs. Then you can hum the music on your way down to vote.

               

               


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