In this streaming era, graphic design and CD packaging art is sometimes given short shrift – which is why we should always embrace the full presentation when an ever-curious veteran artist like Swedish born, NYC based guitarist Tomas Janzon chooses to complement an exciting slate of fresh ensemble tunes with photo illustrations reflecting his title concept Nomadic.
While the cover shows Janzon pedaling a bike on a country road, the insert pics include images of a hot air balloon, various part of a plane, breathtaking vistas and cityscapes. From the dazzling, improvisational opening trio jam “Out Door Valley” (one of six dynamic, intuitive and freewheeling duets with vibraphonist Steve Nelson) through the shuffling, bustling and hopeful “Pressing Forward” (featuring some of Tony Austin’s boldest and fanciful drumming), Janzon takes us on a current journey as fascinating and intricately passionate as his multi-faceted career to date.
For context, his biographical details are worth sharing. He began playing cello at age eight and played with a chamber orchestra before ever picking up a guitar. His passion for classical has never waned as per the soulfully hypnotic, stripped down duet with Nelson on “Letter from J.S.B.,” an homage to Bach. After establishing his career as an artist and TV/film composer in Europe, he studied with his mentor Joe Diorio at Musicians Institute/GIT in Los Angeles before relocating to NYC and becoming an internationally renowned performer.
In addition to the foundational adventurous tracks with Nelson, bassist Hilliard Greene and drummer Chuck McPherson, Janzon’s current eclectic trip – conceived and recorded during and reflective of his creative heart in the pandemic era – also includes a moody, reflective “Search for Peace” (a McCoy Tyner gem) and a spirited stroll through Sonny Rollins’ “Valse Hot” artfully ensembling with Austin and bassist Jeff Littleton. It’s as if it takes two completely separate trios to share the many aspects of Janzon’s current musical heart. Also notable is the fact that while he taps into important influences like Rollins Tyner, the majority of the tracks are originals both reflecting on the journey so far and truly pressing forward.