Mats Ingvarsson
'Mats Ingvarsson's HOPE'

 by Johanna B. Bodde

Mats Ingvarsson
'Mats Ingvarsson's HOPE'
(Kopasetic Productions, 2014)

The question would spark a nice, long and interesting discussion on some roots music panel: does jazz belong to the roots music or not? In my humble opinion I think it does. I also enjoy listening to jazz every now and then, not too far out experimental but just some great sounding jazz like... this album, for example, by talented Swedish musician Mats Ingvarsson!

Mats Ingvarsson introduces himself:

Mats Ingvarsson... Born 1966...
I played cello all through my childhood (still think Bach cello-suites is THE best school for walking bass!). Picked up guitar to take part of the music I actually listened to in my teens: 70s pop... Singer-songwriter and early disco... In hindsight I can tell there was a special feeling for blues or whenever blues elements showed its face in pop music (quite often...). My parents were church people listening to classical music so choral stuff always make me sentimental still! Picked up electric bass when we started a school band playing soul.

Then it happened: Star People (Miles...) and We Want Miles! And Headhunters! Music that hit me deeper than anything before! Blues! Improvisation! Groove! All combined... I felt an urge to be a part of something, at least remotely, like that.
That was it!... Fooled around with soul and funk as a hobby for some years while listening to harder stuff at home or with my playmates.

Went to Skurups Folkhögskola for two years where we studied jazz and some fusion full time with very much of ensemble-playing. I guess I decided to pursue some kind of professional career at that time. Writing songs... Playing... Whatever! Also, sound and production interested me. A little audiophile is hiding in there!
Slowly and over the years (let’s see... early nineties...) I more and more enjoyed acoustic jazz and wanted to be a part of that sound too! Bought an upright and started practicing. Got some gigs playing post-bop and standards. Wouldn’t let go of the Fender Jazz though and played a lot of soul and funk where and whenever I had the opportunity (Grand Clinic, Soul Quality Quartet).

Parallel to this I dug into some West African stuff via Youssou n’Dour and others. Fascinating stuff when kora patterns finds their way (maybe...) via guitar to the electric bass! Back-packed for some months through West Africa to listen some more and breath it some more.

Then (or parallel too, I guess...) came a Brazilian era. Me and two of my dearest playmates (Mans Mernsten and Mans Block, keys and drums) were hired for a year to be the trio hosting a club called 'Blame it on the Bossa Nova' with new guests every week. Had to explore some more than the ordinary 'real book'-standards from Brazil then!! Led to a still-lasting love affair with Brazilian music. The groove (with obvious relations to West Africa) paired with intricate and sometimes jazzy composition in a natural way! And sentimentality!! Both Soul Quality Quartet and A Bossa Elétrica are projects with much, or total, Brazilian flavour.

Around the millennium I attended a course in Denmark 'Summer Session' for a week with Geri Allen as my main teacher. Being a fan, both of her and of every bass player she’s ever hired, this was a very inspirational week and when her manager, a few months later, calls me and asks me to sub for Robert Hurst for thirteen gigs throughout Europe I thought someone was pulling my leg hard! But it was true and that experience taught me so many things! About music, about 'jazz business' and on and on... Most significantly, it gave me courage and confidence. A feeling that I’m a part of something bigger and have a right to speak (or play...)

'Mats Ingvarsson’s HOPE' is, in a way, a fruit of that. Recording some of my music or interpreting others. Believing that my 'voice' could have meaning to others.

Along with all this I’ve been teaching bass, ensemble-playing and music theory and playing all kinds of gigs in many genres and different contexts. In the pit under an opera scene or in front of big audiences at festivals playing funk and jazz and I’m very thankful to music (as some kind of deity?) for this.

'Mats Ingvarsson’s HOPE' is by the way a production completely of my own. I took some help recording it but edited and mixed on my own. This is something I also have learned and feel that I do quite good. I have mixed and co-engineered several projects where I was a player but also others projects where I’ve acted as co-producer and engineer. I would enjoy doing that some more! 

Artists / Bands I’ve worked with: Grand Clinic, Soul Quality Quartet, Almaz Yebio, Fredrik Kronkvist, Anders Bergcrantz, Chico Lindvall, Ola Akerman, Miriam Aida,  A Bossa Elétrica, Sofi Hellborg, Jan Lundgren, Geri Allen, Mathias Landaeus, Monday Night Big Band (Malmö), Damn/Timbuktu, Torbjörn Righard, Simone Moreno. I could go on namedropping real famous people I’ve 'shared the stage with' but that’s not relevant is it?

Mats Ingvarsson's TRACKS

Personnel: Daniel Fredriksson (drums); Mats Ingvarsson (bass, vocals, percussion); Magnus Lindeberg (guitar); Maggi Olin (Rhodes and grand piano); Karl-Martin Almqvist (tenor sax); Claus Hojensgard Andersen (trumpet).

1. "Afrotoo": This is a relaxed instrumental, composed by Mats Ingvarsson himself. He also plays wonderful bass parts and the electric guitar demands immediate attention for its superb wah-wah sounds! I love those, anywhere. To be honest, I didn't actually realize they are also featured in jazz.

2. "Take Cover": Another Mats original, also instrumental. More fabulous guitar on a tight rhythm, this track has a richer sound, building up frantically with keyboards and tenor sax plus trumpet.

3. "I Just Want To Make Love To You": Cover, written by Willie Dixon (1954), also recorded by Muddy Waters. Mats sings here! Yes, I do like his voice. He convinces in this funky jazz version of the classic blues track. Again: I absolutely love that guitar, it has an almost human voice and it talks back to Matt constantly, it even screams in protest! Another reviewer describes Magnus Lindeberg's bold playing as 'serpenting over the frets' and I couldn't agree more. 

4. "Flesh 'n Bone": A guest on the additional tenor saxophone is here Christoffer Wallin. This is also a (midtempo) instrumental track and a Mats Ingvarsson composition, full of soul, starring the beautiful saxophones (I love sax!), trumpet and also the fine keyboards.

5. "In My Dreams": Mats sings again in this self-penned song. A slow r&b influenced ballad, where Mats uses his voice as yet another instrument, it blends in so very nicely with the music. His timing and also his pronunciation are impeccable. Maggi Olin plays the grand piano here and it gives the song a wonderful old school feeling.

6. "Loser": A surprising cover, this is Beck's song indeed (from his album 'Mellow Gold', 1994)! Worked into an intriguing 6m56s long instrumental. I love that rumbling bass sound. Of course there are also more articulate guitar solos and that ending on bass and drums is certainly a find!

7. "Blues For CM": How we love the wah-wah guitar! This is a composition by bassist Dave Holland, recorded in 1987 on his album 'The Razor's Edge'. Also an instrumental, but really, who needs a human voice with an exuberant guitar like this?

8. "Snorkeling": A flowing, mellow instrumental composition by Mats himself. Featuring keyboards and gorgeous trumpet plus saxophone solos, worthy of a film noir soundtrack.

9. "When Did You Leave Heaven": The last track is also a cover, written in 1936 by R.A. Whiting and Walter Bullock, for the movie 'Sing, Baby, Sing'. It has also been recorded by Bob Dylan ('Down In The Groove', 1988), by the crooners Jim Reeves and Pat Boone and by lady singers Diane Schuur and Lisa Ekdahl. Now Mats treats us to some of his fine vocal parts again. He plays a refined acoustic bass! Then drums kick in and our friend the guitar enters the room for a heartfelt solo, followed by the electric piano. Groovy.

Don't let the number of nine tracks fool you - this disc contains a generous 55 minutes of music! I don't see myself as an expert on jazz, but I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing this album. To tell you a secret: I got a crush on it and I will certainly play it again and again.

Besides a fascinating musician himself, Mats Ingvarsson certainly is a team player, he lets all the members of his band shine in their solos and specialties. Although this is a flawless, very professionally recorded album, it still has this sense of improvising that makes it, together with the well-chosen interesting covers, even more accessible and attractive. I would like to recommend this album as a 'must have' and even if you, music lover, don't listen that often to jazz: try this one, you won't regret it!
Written & compiled by Johanna J. Bodde - March 12th, 2015.