Jerry Johansson - Variations on Mountain Flame (Tuition Book + LP)
OUTERDISK and Blend Eclectic, 2021.
(Tuition Book + LP) Colored Limited edition of 50 copies (First edition) 20 copies (Second edition)
Release date: April 22, 2021.
This album has been made possible through Stiftelsen Längmanska kulturfonden.
Since lately, Jerry Johansson now also allows himself to travel deeper and deeper into the magical sounds of the banjo, guitar and sitar.
Banjo, this magical instrument, made up of five strings, and, through the ages, with close connections to both heaven and hell. But for the first time in history, Jerry really PLAYS the banjo as no one has ever done before!
The music and sounds of Jerry is constantly expanding and overtly psychedelic in the very same instant.
In short, The Inner Mountain Flame presents urban mountain music in the everpresent surroundings of now, 2020.
It's all here, in the ongoing madness of our times.
Deeply rooted in the "traditions" of Gabor Szabo, Robbie Basho, Sandy Bull, George Stavis and other luminaries, Jerry Johansson is wise enough not to succumb into an admoring "follower", but both tries and succeds in expanding this ongoing journey with his own, total imprint, signs, gestures and identity.
But, of course, even good old Clarence Ashley is an distant relative.
And, just as in the dream sleep, various themes, images and remembrances are closely tied together through the vibrant strings of eternity.
As already stated, the banjo is a magical instrument, and Jerry Johansson is the magician choosen to show the way further!
Introduction text from the tuition book:
In the very beginning of it all, when I started playing the guitar, I was instantly fascinated with the magnitude of opportunities within the instrument, and I wanted to learn all the hidden secrets; everything was an open, inviting presence to me.
In my youth, I spent a lot of time in the two libraries situated in my home town of Varberg, a small city on the west coast of Sweden, listening to most all of the jazz records they had there, and also reading various books on jazz, and tabulatures, constantly dreaming of gaining the knowledge, the essence of it all, in purpose to take me further.
And, of course, this new path of mine also included numerous hours of practising my, by then, choosen instrument, the guitar.
Needless to say, I also spent many an hour in the dark corners of the mystical libraries of the old days.
After more or less secretly having played on my own, alone in my room, for a couple of years, I finally met a couple of teachers who was able to brighten up my future, and take me further into my choosen musical path.
But, for me then, the uttermost thrill of all was, and still is, the magic of finding new, enchanted music.
Early on in my youth, it was the music of jazz I was caught up with, and I immediately started to listen to all the random jazz records my dad had in his collection.
I persuaded my parents to accompany the young me to various jazz concerts in the near surroundings in my hometown, arranged by the local jazz community there, and a couple of years later, I, among many enthrilling acts, experienced Barney Kessel at the City theatre of Varberg; still and forever a treasured memory.
One of my very first, own, official gigs took place at the Håstensskolan in Varberg.
I believe I was 12 years old, and the group consisted of two guitars and drums.
The music we played back then was jazz standards, and also one of my own, very early composition, in the vein of rock and funk.
Some months ago, I actually found a cassette recording of this concert, hidden in the back of my closet, but, believe it or not; although long, long times ago, the music still feels like now!
Sort of, anyway.
I have, since always, been very fascinated with different feelings and "frames of mind" in the music, and all the memories connected to all these experiences.
Most often, there is also a very special connection to the different sequels of the year's passing seasons; the sensation of autumn being my all-time-favourite.
In my world, jazz is forever autumn, and autumn is eternally jazz.
The very first time in my life in where I felt I could compose and totally connect with the music I most of all liked, ocurred in the early stages of my, then, old band Grovjobb.
We played a sort of instrumental, progressive rock and jazz-rock, with strong influences from the Swedish prog-movement from the early 70's, and also from our own surrounding nature.
Trees, green grass, stones and the power of flowers.
As Grovjobb, we released three albums on Garageland Records, situated in Umeå, consisting of my compositions.
Soon enough, I wanted to expand my music to be much longer and even longer in time and space, but without loss of concentration and conceptual continuity.
During exactly the same time, I happened to discover the sitar, and fell immediately in love with the instrument, and thus, started to study this magical instrument on my own for a couple of years, with the tuition books of Manfred Junius and Clem Alford (of Magic Carpet fame) as the only guiding lights in the prevailing darkness.
Not the easiest of tasks, since becoming a sitar master is a life-long commitment, and so totally different from everything else I had done up til now.
But, since I had become more or less totally "posessively fanatical" by then, I most gladly prolonged my journey to wisdom.
Soon afterwards, a "once-of-a-lifetime-opportunity" appeared, in the shape of Roop Verma.
According to an ad in my local newspaper, I read that the sitar master Roop Verma would give a concert at the City Concert Hall in Göteborg, early next month, and to continue the newspaper information "Roop Verma have studied for Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan".
Before the beginning, I had already listened to some recordings of classical Indian ragas, and was totally fascinated by what I heard, there and then.
I could sense a very special magic in the musical introductions to the pieces, Alap, in where you slowly shows and expands "the shapes to come".
Lately I have come to know that it is in these, first parts, the very beginnings of the compositions, that you are allowed to learn much further on, in the lifelong sitar studies.
Secrets don't come easily.
And then, something appeared to me as in a flash; the sensation that appears only once in your lifetime; I felt totally "safe at home" in the music that Roop Verma presented and performed.
A feeling and an insight I had never experienced before or after.
Some weeks later Roop Verma had an workshop in Göteborg, in which I, of course, totally immersed in, and not too long after that, I found myself being in New York, involved in a two-weeks studying course in the Ananda Ashram, situated in Monroe, N.Y.
This was also the initiation and beginning of a several years long study for me, together with the sitar master Roop Verma, and, in extension, a magical musical journey that still continues to this day.
There are many similarities between learning the sitar from a master, and learning the banjo from the generations of inherited knowledge from your father, mother, grandfather, grandmother and related.
Whether it is classical Indian music concerned, or mountain folk music, the tradition continues eternally, generation after generation after generation,
And also, some insights remains forever secrets to the choosen few; just as it should be, of course.
Evening and morning ragas, nursery rhymes, holy psalms, mountain music; in one sense, totally apart, but on the other hand, also completely connected.
I have during quite a long time now been trying to figuring out how to write an tutorial book which connects my composed music with my improvisations; to connect everyting together in the same, natural way that made my young self wanted to learn more and more.
This feeling appeared already in my youth, when I first heard certain guitar records with the tablature enlosed, or related texts of insight, written on the back covers of record sleeves.
This now, my book, is an attempt to reproduce these sensations and insights.
The parts that are notated within a tablature are all interpretations from my LP-album "Mountain Flame", in where I play banjo, sitar, acoustic guitar and dulcimer.
Since this music within, to a great extent, are composed thoroughly through improvisation, and then expanding along the way of the performance, so to speak, and will never be heard exactly the same again, it is concidered to appear as in the same principles as in the old Indian days, when a 40 minutes long recorded raga would appear as a 3 minute musical piece on an old 78 RPM record, without even for an instant, loosing the purpose or aim within the presented raga.
Another aim of mine is that the avid student are welcomed to choose a certain, shorter part of a composition on my record, develop it, and make the music its own.
Circular circulation, and the music continues, forever and on and on.
Just as it is supposed to be.
So, most welcome, One and all, to enter!