No gimmicks. No cookie-cutter formatted templates.
Just good sound. That’s what pianist Jonathan Fritzen brings with
Magical (Nordic Night Records, 2012). The Swedish-American artist
showcases his skills as musician, composer and producer.
Born in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and American father, Fritzen
started playing drums as a child, and later added piano, bass, guitar,
flute and vocals. His release Diamonds reached Number 1 on both
the Billboard airplay charts and Amazon.com sales charts.
A variable lineup of supporting musicians aids Fritzen in this effort.
Special guests include saxophonist Boney James on the title track,
guitarist Paul Brown on “Sweet Spot” and vocalist Malene Mortensen on
“Can’t Get You Out of My Mind.”
“Love Will Overcome” is a lively piece that features Jackiem Joyner on
saxophone. Bassist Alex Al lays down a cool groove, with drummer Eric
Valentine, guitarist Michael Thompson and percussionist Andreas Ekstedt
helping to round out the sound. Fritzen and Joyner blend beautifully on
the melody, with the sax out front quite a bit. The rhythm section
provides plenty of depth during the piano solo and throughout the rest
of the song.
The aptly titled “Electric” brings in Darryl Williams for bass duties
and Randy Jacobs on guitars. Ektstedt and Valentine complete the lineup.
Fritzen provides the energy, but as with the other tracks, the other
musicians are solidly involved. The rhythm guitar is subtle, yet
effective. After a brief, quiet interlude, the song reverts to the main
theme. Fritzen cranks up the juice for the power surge ending.
Fritzen composed all 11 songs on Magical. A straightforward
smooth jazz release, this set brings to mind some of the music of Bob
James or David Benoit, jazz piano greats who easily shift from
contemporary to pop-jazz or even orchestral sounds.