130th & Lenox

by Tomas Janzon

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    Photos and Graphic design by Christopher Drukker.
    Collage photos by Tomas Janzon
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Invitation 04:18
Beatrice 04:04
Iris 04:46
Hypnagogic 04:27
The Crystal 03:10


Softly As in the Morning: I had an idea about keeping a reoccurring note in the middle of a falling line of chords. In this case it was the open G-string. I do have an affinty for descending dominant chords. It is like coming home, like finding a starting point, putting your feet on the ground or reaching inside for a place of peace. And the composition's almost modal nature (staying on one chord) made it all come together.

Somewhere Over Stockholm: I was lying on my back on a sofa on the fourth floor in Stockholm looking at the clouds passing by and an old Swedish pop melody came to my mind. I tried to get rid of it but it came back over and over again, so I wrote this thing inspired from that melodic excerpt. And then it stopped, I could listen for something new. It was an interesting rehearsal with Steve where I asked him to play a part with the bass and then following with me in unison. So we found this arrangement that made the recording.

Prince Albert: I ran into Prince Albert at a gig in the Hamilton Heights here in Manhattan. A saxophone player friend of mine brought up the composition by Kenny Dorham, and I started listening and working on it. Later it became part of the repertoire when touring in Germany with Chuck McPherson. – When I was a kid, Chuck explained, Kenny once sent me away to buy tobacco. (Prince Albert tobacco).

Latitude Longitude: To be at a certain place at a certain time, that is a condition we all share, at least most of the time. In music one note is usually enough to tell me where I am but here I experiment with two notes pointing in different directions at the same time.

Invitation: This song by Bronislaw Kaper has always been close to me, with its intervallic approach in the strong melody and unusual form. It's the quality of melody that gets me.

Beatrice: We are walking through Munich Airport when Donald Dean tells me about that Sam Rivers tune he wants to play. This was October 2018 and Donald flew back to LA and I flew back to New York. I listened and wrote an arrangement in two different octaves. Then a couple of months later I went over to Los Angeles to play the Lighthouse with Donald and Nedra. We also went into Nosound studio in Pasadena and recorded a few tracks. I love the way this melody moves from major to minor and how all the chords in some way connects to a vocal feeling.

Have You Met Ms. Jones: I heard the late Doug Rainy play this song at a classical guitar festival in Ulricehamn, a small town in the middle of Sweden. He was the only jazz teacher/performer and it was a few amazing summer days studying with Doug, hanging with Doug and listening to him play. I know he loved this tune and I do too.

Iris: Ever since recording Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum a long time ago (X-Changes), the compositions of Wayne Shorter follow me, and now it was time for Iris. So we just did one take and kept it all the way it was. I believe his composition shows the genius of Shorter. A brief 16 bar work carrying so much content, from the sublime ethereal to the physical.

Hypnagogic: I was working with a young drummer here in New York and at some point he talked about playing in 11/4. Eleven beats to each measure. – Interesting, I thought, this is my number. Then a few weeks later I am practicing at my place on 130th Street and after a while it's time to take a nap. That is when it happens: while I am about to fall asleep I hear a line of notes, and it comes back several times. I woke up and wrote down the notes. – Nothing in particular interesting, I thought. But then I realized there was something strange about it. I had to start counting, and the number eleven came up. Just like that. This numerical palindrome, my number.

Monk's Mood: It was late at night, around 3 am. I call it the wolf-hour and this is when I wake up. This time, lying on my back in the dark, I hear a crackling sound. It is my CD player. I know it is shut off and it had never started by itself before. It is a bit scary: I hear it start and then the music begins. I'm thinking what is this, what is this, and then: it's Monk's Mood. My fascination with that melody was coming back to me. Like an answer. So there was no choice here. Next day I sat down started from the top, harmonizing, making an arrangement. Then I had to learn to play it.

This was the call to action. I had been procrastinating for too long. I had been very active for sure, playing USA and Europe, booking and teaching. Writing music: small ideas for improvising, compositions. Also writing articles about the music. Then going over to Joe Diorio in Waterbury - getting inspired. But now time to do something, meaning produce something. So the way to start was with my old friends in Los Angeles. I had now been in New York for 6 years but still my friends in LA was the way to start this process. We ended up recording the first session in the end of December 2017. Monk's Mood and The Crystal.

The Crystal: My love for the melodies my mother sang with me in childhood will never leave me. They always come back and help me, and give to me, and open me up. I had been playing "Kristallen den fina/The Crystal" in my solo program "From Bach to Jazz" for classical guitar for several years. Now for this session with Nedra and Donald I wrote a new arrangement for guitar, bass and drums. And with Nedra tuning in to her amazing intuition and with Donald's open mind it all came together.


released October 4, 2019

Tomas Janzon-guitar
Steve Nelson-vibrapone
Nedra Wheeler- bass
Hilliard Greene-bass
Donald Dean-drums
Chuck McPherson-drums


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Tomas Janzon New York, New York

Since driving from Los Angeles to New York, Tomas Janzon has been growing a strong profile in The Big Apple, playing venues such as Smalls, Fat Cat and Bar Next Door. His new release 130th & Lenox, created out of his location in Harlem, received 4 stars in Downbeat 2020. – Hobart Taylor writes:
"There’s an authority to Tomas Janzon’s playing,
but it’s generous, open, masterful and gracious."
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