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Nordic jazz has always been informed by its traditional music, creating that expansive soulful sound that’s often referred to as the Nordic blues. In Norrland, the duo of leading Swedish musicians saxophonist Jonas Knuttson and guitarist Johan Norberg, the influence is explicit.

Norrland refers to Sweden’s northernmost region, and its cool white landscape illuminated by the midnight sun. Its a character that radiates from this empathic duo and their graceful, floating compositions, themselves informed by the polskas and hailings of Sweden’s traditional music and the deeply reflective songs of the indigenous Sami people of the far north. Unique to Nordic jazz It has that languid, uncluttered feeling, with writing that is rich in inner detail, and characterized by a mysterious equilibrium between composed and free materials.

Norrland’s roots were modest, and began as a way to kill time during a snowbound Christmas in 1999. When the thaw came, Jonas Knuttson and Johan Norberg were well on their way to forging an intimate language that speaks to jazz and traditional music with equal clarity, and now captured on two evocative ACT releases.

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