Take one of the hottest composers and keyboard players in instrumental pop, add in featured performances from the likes of Gerald Albright, Paul Taylor and Nils Landgren, hook them up with ten wonderful new tunes and what do you have? The answer is ‘Fritzenized’, the latest album from the Billboard chart-topping, artist Jonathan Fritzén.
It is the Swedish American’s fifth solo CD and follows the critically acclaimed ‘Magical’ from which the title cut blasted a path to #1 on every smooth jazz airplay chart on the planet.
The fact that even before it’s release date, ‘Fritzenized’ has already become a chart topper says much for a collection that, two years in the making, is Fritzén’s most personal to date. Writing, producing and (for the first time) mixing every track, he comes closer to his true musical vision than with any other project he has created so far.
A case in point is the aptly titled ‘A Funky Night’ that finds him reuniting with vocalist Laila Adele. As Jonathan explains, “Laila is not only a long term collaborator of mine but also one of my favorite singers. The groove for the song was inspired by one of the most sampled drum loops in rap music, ‘Juicy Fruit’ that I thought would fuse nicely with my own musical spices.”
There is no doubt it worked out just fine and much the same can be said of ‘Guacamole’, which has a vibe of the kind Fritzén first heard when touring in Nicaragua many years ago. “After the shows”, Jonathan recalls, “we would go out to the local clubs to party. The songs that the DJ’s were spinning would often have this beat they called “reggaeton” and this is my own take on it. Guacamole is probably my favorite thing to eat so I thought it would be a good title for the tune.” It features Swedish trombone player Nils Landgren, one of Europe’s most famous jazz musicians, and another guest performer that Fritzén was eager to have on board is Gerald Albright whom Fritzén describes as being one of the greatest sax players on earth.
As Jonathan tells it, “We were figuring out who was going to play sax on the track ‘Celebration’ and, for me, Albright was the perfect choice. A number of years ago we played in Germany at the same festival, just when I was coming onto the scene, and we had breakfast together. I remember what a nice person he was and, having seen him at various festivals in the States where we’ve both played, it felt natural to ask him. I wanted a very ‘jammy’ ending to the number, where we could play off each other, so his versatility and mastery of improvisation was just what I needed.” The title reflects the festive feeling that the song has and is helped in this respect by Alex Al on bass and Randy Jacobs on guitar, guys who Fritzén considers to be two of the hottest cats on the scene today.”
Talking of hot, Paul Taylor’s contribution on ‘Euphoria’ is top notch yet, in the final analysis, ‘Fritzenized’ is all about the magic that the music of Jonathan Fritzén invariably brings. Take for example the first single to be serviced to radio, ‘A New Beginning’ or the dreamy ‘Sailing Away’ on which Fritzén’ utilizes his under-used singing voice for the first time since 2008 and the release of his debut album ‘Love Birds’. Both these masterpieces of rhythm and melody find him at his excellent best and seem set to accelerate his already meteoric rise to fame at a rate rarely seen since the mid seventies when those other Swedish superstars, Abba, took the USA by storm.
As Jonathan puts it, “I feel so fortunate that my dreams of touring the world, sharing my music with so many people and playing with childhood idols has become a reality. Now, I feel more strongly that I want to focus on different types of goals and for my music to affect people’s lives in a very positive way. Music can be a powerful force and all I want is for everybody who hears this record to come out a little bit different on the other side. That’s my dream for Fritzenized.”