When singer Sofia Jannok took to the stage on Thursday at popular music club, she made her point clear: she wanted to transport them to the Tundra region of northern Sweden where temperatures dip to sub-zero with miles of snowy land all around.
What followed next was a series of ambient, ethereal numbers by the performer, who specialises in Sami music from the Arctic region. A striking feature of this form of music is the singing of joiks or song-chants.
High on syllabic improvisation, Sofia’s tracks filled the otherwise bustling atmosphere with dreamy calm. “Right now, the temperature in Sweden is minus 23 degrees Celsius. I want you to imagine the vast white region as I sing this song,” announced Sofia, as she introduced one of her numbers.
The evening before, two jazz acts from the country had enchanted passionate listeners at St Andrew’s Auditorium. Tonbruket, a Grammy-award winning band comprising Dan Berglund (double bass), Martin Hederos (piano and keyboards), Johan Lindström (guitar) and Andreas Werliin (drums) led listeners though their compositions, which were high on inventiveness and instrumental wizardry.
Interestingly, one of their songs, Vinegar Heart, is inspired by Arundhati Roy’s God Of Small Things. Ask them about this unusual muse and Lindström replies, “I love that book and especially the character of Kochu Maria who is described as ‘vinegar-hearted’, bitter and short-tempered.”
The other band, Jan Lundgren Trio, led by Lundgren (piano), Mattias Svensson (double bass) and Dane Morten Lund (drums) gave audiences a rare delight with their blend of Swedish folk and jazz forms, and their rendition of European standards.
While one of their original compositions, Flowers Of Joy delved into the peppiness of uptempo bossa nova, Time Is Now was dedicated by the band to the legendary jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker.
This concert being Jan’s band’s first performance in India, ask him how different the audience is here as compared to other places and he smiles, “People are more alike than different. The listeners here are like any other group anywhere else in the world.”