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Isabella Lundgren

I am sitting at a wooden table in the basement of the Scala theater in Stockholm. I am watching Isabella Lundgren from afar. Everywhere around us the party is swirling and swaying back and forth. Her party. An after party if you will, after her concert at the Stockholm Concert hall, which she sold out entirely on her own. Last time I was at the concert hall was when Patti Smith held a concert there after receiving the Polar Music Prize, it was not sold out. An hour ago Isabella held a somewhat sacred and rather magical concert with her own material, backed by a full classical orchestra. The seated audience applauded enthusiastically but politely. They were dressed up the way middle age people dress up for the theater. In Scala’s basement the mood in inverted. A wild band is blowing Dixie as underage girls spill Jack and Coke over their music-school-attending boyfriends and the in Sweden mandatory thick winter coats are trampled on the floor. In front of the stage the sweat is dripping down from the ceiling. It is crowded and rowdy and hot. Isabella has a smile on her face and her adopted Romanian street dog in her arms. She is standing a little to the side, watching the party with mild amusement. She is drinking a non alcoholic cider. Out of the sea of people Rigmor Gustafsson emerges to thank Isabella. The Swedish jazz queen Rigmor has stars in her eyes. She gives Isabella, what seems to be, at least from where I am sitting, an overwhelming review. As they are holding each others arms I think of a moment I have only read about. When Johnny Cash made his way over to Bob Dylan after a concert in the late sixties, to give to him his finest acoustic guitar. I think of that and I think of this. An equivalent of that moment. A passing of the torch if you will. There it is, torch passed. They even hail from the same town.

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“Isabella Lundgren has a seriousness and a gravity that is unique. Its like she makes time stand still just by being, I guess thats what they call charisma and presence. And then she sings absolutely fantastic, with a natural, flowing time and a low-key but expressive phrasing. The fact the she has something to say with her lyrics, also adds to the magic. She is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to the Swedish Jazz scene”. —Dan Backman, Swedish Daily News

”Lundgren’s incisive and agile voice, often reminiscent of Anita O’Day and Billie Holiday, came from a formally attired, deceptively slight frame and it thus was less of a surprise than it might have been to discover later that having studied music at New York’s New School she is now in Stockholm studying to be a priest

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