Jonathan Lundberg is a Swedish drummer and composer, who played in many clubs and venues in his homeland over the last four years. Recently he privately released his first album called Nebula. His music mainly consists of two different styles: on the one hand jazz-rock and fusion, on the other his music is firmly rooted in instrumental prog rock. On Nebula a number of guest musicians participate, but the core is formed by bassist Henrik Linder, keyboard player Kristian Kraftling, guitarist Erik Linder, and Lundberg on drums. The other musicians may be well-known in Scandinavia, but the only one I knew is Ernest Tibbs, who once was a member of the Allan Holdsworth Trio.
As I said earlier Lundberg's music has two sides. Sometimes it sounds to me like pure jazz as in Clavero. Here the piano and the acoustic guitar are prominently present, together with Jerker Lindström's electric wind instrument. Clavero is a very nice piece with a kind of Brazilian atmosphere and catchy drum work. Other compositions, like Phantom and Siberia, are a sort of mixture of the music of the jazz-fusion group El Grupo, founded by the former Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, and older stuff by Jeff Beck. These pieces include tasteful guitar playing in which Lundberg's style of drumming reminds me of Virgil Donati (Allan Holdsworth, Planet X).
A piece that really impressed me is the album's title track, which contains rich melodies and robust solo parts. It combines power with melody and virtuoso playing. While listening to Higgs Intro and Higgs, I clearly noticed the influences of Planet X in the drum style of Donati, but yet this composition has an identity of its own. Generally the album holds a wide range of various influences. Sometimes I heard the sound of Frank Gambale; at other times some parts reminded me of Japanese jazz-rock bands like Trix and T-Square especially in the fluent melodies, but I also heard musical parts tending towards Mezzoforte's style. However, most of the time the heavier instrumental prog rock blends all these styles to a fine form of Swedish quality music.
Snowflake is a special composition; it's the only song that contains vocals. The female vocals are gentle and sweet and the accompanying music is pure smooth jazz, apparently another style that Lundberg masters. This piano driven song has a touch of the Canadian jazz singer and pianist Diane Krall. The final piece Heavens Maze is the counterpart of Snowflake: a heavier fusion-like composition in which the sound of Ernest Tibbs's bass guitar forms a perfect basis for guitarist Carl Mörner to play one of the most expressive solos of the album.
For me Jonathan Lundberg has proven to be an impressive drummer, who manages to play many musical styles. The overall atmosphere is very diverse: from smooth vocal jazz to impressive progressive fusion with lots of parts in which there's room enough for all musicians to excel. I can imagine that the mellower pieces are too soft for Planet X or Tribal Tech fans, but then again it shows what a complete drummer and composer Lundberg is. It's in his favour that he doesn't limit himself to just one musical style. Therefore I can play this album any time a day independent of the mood I'm in.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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