Per Tjernberg

Posted 2013-08-12

Percussionist and composer Per Tjernberg has been active on the Swedish music scene since the mid-seventies when he started the group Archimedes Badkar, of now- declared cult status. He has brought his huge collection of instruments and knowledge of music from all over the world to numerous groups in the fields of jazz, free improvisation, rock, reggae, latin, afro and R&B, and collaborated with artists such as Dr John, Don Cherry and painter Mati Klarwein with whom he made the music & spoken word-album “No Man´s Land” (1997) that Carlos Santana in his liner notes labeled “music of the spheres with earth rhythms and overtones of deliciously mad, sensual and spiritual overtones”. He was the first Swedish artist to work with American rap-artists (on the internationally successful album “Don´t Stop” in 1982) and his dub-reggae outfit Universal Riddim included scratch-turntablists alongside tabla-and oud-players, releasing two albums unlike any other reggae music.

Tjernbergs last album “Inside Information” showcased his compositions for a large assembly of Swedens finest jazz musicians, including Bobo Stenson and Bernt Rosengren. On “Music Is My Salvation” – his 12th solo outing – he continues to write in the large format while the expanding the instrumentation into chamber territory with harp, strings and multiple woodwinds. The latter was mostly handled by the brilliant multi-instrumentalist Kjell Westling, who tragically passed away shortly after the recording. Tjernberg calls Westling “one of the music worlds hidden treasures” who among the many instruments he so masterfully played (piano, violin. brass instruments etc:) here shines on saxophones, flutes, clarinets and Spanish lute.


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“Music Is My Salvation” contains music that shifts kaleidoscopically and often takes surprisng turns around what Tjernberg calls “vertical horizons” – the only thing that stays constant is that it defies categorization into “style” or “genre”, even if advance listeners has detected elements that might have their source in Tjernbergs wideranging musical tastes such as Harry Partch, Alice Coltrane, Phil Spectors arranger Jack Nietzche, Santeria-drumming, Hermeto Pascoal, Frank Zappa, Garth Hudsons work with The Band, Herbie Hancocks Mwandishi-group, The Art Ensemble Of Chicagos use of “little instruments” and of course Igor Stravinsky, whose “Miniature” (the only composition not penned by TJernberg) nods to Tjernbergs life-long obsession with Stravinskys music in general, and the score for “Petroushka” in particular (as some listeners might find evident in the two-part “Pythagoras Suite” that opens the album)