Jan Johansson

~ Person


Jan Johansson (16 September 1931 – 9 November 1968) was a Swedish jazz pianist. He is little known outside Scandinavia, and his records are not widely available, though Jazz på svenska (Jazz in Swedish) has sold more than a quarter of a million copies, and is the best selling jazz release ever in Sweden.

Johansson was a native of Söderhamn, in the Hälsingland province of Sweden. Studying classical piano as a child, he would also go on to master the guitar, organ and accordion, before turning on to swing and bebop as a teenager. He met saxophonist Stan Getz while at university. He abandoned his studies to play jazz full-time, and worked with many American jazz musicians, becoming the first European to be invited to join the Jazz at the Philharmonic package.

The years 1961 to 1968 produced a string of classic albums, which would help define his style of re-imagining traditional European folk tunes via jazz and the avant garde. These included Jazz på svenska and Jazz på ryska (Jazz in Russian) which are both available in an expanded form on CD. Jazz på ungerska (Jazz in Hungarian) together with Danish Jazz violinist Svend Asmussen is the third album in that series. Jazz in Swedish comprises variations on sixteen Swedish folk songs with Georg Riedel playing double bass. During this period, Johansson also made several recordings with Radiojazzgruppen.

The Grammy award winning albums Musik genom fyra sekler (Music from the past four centuries) builds on traditional Swedish melodies, but this time uses larger groups of musicians. There were also 300.000 and two trio sets, 8 Bitar and Innertrio, which have been reissued as a single CD.

With his career including film & TV music, Johansson is also best known as the composer of "Here Comes Pippi Longstocking" ("Här kommer Pippi Långstrump"), the theme song of the famous Swedish TV series, Pippi Longstocking. With lyrics by character/series creator Astrid Lindgren and sung by the series' young star Inger Nilsson, it would also be one of Johansson's last works.

In November 1968 Jan Johansson died in a car crash on his way to a concert in a church in Jönköping, Sweden. His sons, HammerFall drummer Anders Johansson and Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson, run Heptagon Records which keeps their father's recordings available. American hip hop group, Non Phixion, sampled "Bandura" for their song, "Skum." The Swedish band Opeth has claimed him as an influence on the title track for their album "Heritage."

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Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1961 8 bitar Jan Johansson 1
1964 Jazz på svenska Jan Johansson 2
1967 Jazz på ryska Jan Johansson 2
1968 300.000 Jan Johansson 2
1968 Musik genom fyra sekler Jan Johansson 4
1991 Den korta fristen Jan Johansson & Radiojazzgruppen 2
1993 Longing Jan Johansson & Radiojazzgruppen 1
1994 Folkvisor Jan Johansson 5 1
1994 8 Bitar/Innertrio Jan Johansson 1
1995 Intervju med ett piano Jan Johansson 1
1995 Spelar musik på sitt eget vis Jan Johansson 2
1996 Barnvisor Jan Johansson & Bengt-Arne Wallin 1
1996 Jazz på ungerska / In pleno Jan Johansson 3 1
1997 Blues Jan Johansson 1
1999 Younger Than Springtime 1959-61 Jan Johansson & Arne Domnérus 1
2007 Piano Jan Johansson 2
2011 Jan Johansson In Hamburg With Georg Riedel Jan Johansson 1
Ack Värmeland du sköna Jan Johansson 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1995 En resa i jazz och folkton Compilation Jan Johansson 1
1998 Han bär en ljusrymd med sig dit han går Compilation Jan Johansson 1
2009 Tiden och musiken Compilation Jan Johansson 1

Album + Live

Year Title Artist Rating Releases
1994 Live in Tallinn Live Jan Johansson 1
2012 At Nalen with Jan Johansson - Live in Swedish Harlem Live Don Byas with Jan Johansson 1

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