The Swedish trumpet-player Niklas Eklund, born in Göteborg (Gothenburg) in 1969, trained at the School of Music and Musicology of Göteborg University. Further studies took place under the tutelage of Edward H. Tarr at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. After five years as solo trumpet with the Basle Radio Symphony Orchestra, he left the orchestra in the autumn of 1996 to further his career as a soloist. Since then he has appeared with leading ensembles and conductors such as Zubin Metha, John Eliot Gardiner, Heinz Holliger, András Schiff, Robert King, Eric Ericson, Reinhard Goebel, Gustav Leonhardt, the London Baroque, the Bach Ensemble (New York), the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble and the English Baroque Soloists. In 1996 he was the first-prize winner of the first Altenburg International Baroque Trumpet Competition, in Bad Säckingen. He participated in Sir John Eliot Gardner’s Bach Pilgrimage performances and recordings in 2000, appearing in concerts throughout the world.
It's quite an achievement to become famous in one's lifetime, even to be hailed as a great master, yet the creators of Immortal Nystedt seem to have presented the esteemed Norwegian composer his eternal reward a bit prematurely. Knut Nystedt is indeed celebrated in his country, and he has been honored with a knighthood in the Order of St. Olav for his work, so some kudos are clearly in order. But if the a cappella choral music on this SACD by Øystein Fevang with Ensemble 96 and the Bærum Vokalensemble is representative of Nystedt's best work, then the praise is a little extravagant.
Donald Harrison plays quite well throughout this set, displaying a distinctive tone and a consistently creative style within the genre of straight-ahead jazz. All but the last two selections feature him accompanied by bassist Vicente Archer and drummer John Lamkin, both of whom stay very much in the background, often playing repetitive and somewhat dull figures. Pianist Glenn Patscha is on three numbers without making an impression, while the final two songs have Harrison joined by Ron Carter and Billy Cobham.
Altoist Donald Harrison's disc utilizes New Orleans parade rhythms on all of the selections, even while most of the solos (until the final three numbers) are more hard bop than New Orleans jazz. John O'Neal verbally pays tribute to the rhythms on the opening "And How That Rhythm." The other selections include an augmented bop blues ("Two Way Pocky Way"), the tricky "Don't Drink the Water," Thelonious Monk's "Bye-Ya," a pair of Freddie Hubbard tunes well worth reviving ("Crisis" and "Bob's Place"), Sonny Rollins' "Oleo," and the catchy "Spirits of Congo Square."
On his second album for Impulse!, recorded August 18-September 24, 1998, Donald Harrison continues to proselytize for what he called "nouveau swing" on his first date for the label, even going so far as to sing/rap an explanation of his concept in "Nouveau Swing (Reprise)." Essentially, what he seems to mean by the term is that, within an acoustic quartet setting, he intends to introduce elements of a number of musical genres, for example covering the Meters' funk anthem "Cissy Strut" and having drummer John Lamkin use a reggae feel for "Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise," the Sigmund Romberg standard he previously recorded on For Art's Sake.