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Sven-Ake Johansson

Along with the more prolific and widely known Han Bennink, Sven-Ake Johansson was one of the first avant-garde jazz musicians in the world, and played a key role in the energy jazz movement that swept Europe in the '60s and '70s. But unlike the playful, wildly inventive Bennink, who regularly introduced strange and exotic foreign objects into his kit, Johansson put all his concentration and focus on the drums, producing dynamic sound poems on energy and polyrhythm.

Born in Sweden, Johansson expatriated to Berlin in the late '60s, and immediately became involved in the burgeoning energy jazz movement spearheaded by saxophonist Peter Brötzmann. Johansson was the drummer on Brötzmann's first recording, For Adolphe Sax (1967), and on the subsequent Brötzmann Octet release, Machine Gun (also featuring Bennink), a joyful torrent of anarchic rhythm and noise that has since become a seminal free jazz recording. Soon Johansson also began working with German pianist and composer Alex von Schlippenbach, a collaboration that would last into the '80s.

In 1972, Johansson recorded and self-released Schlingerland. It was one of the first solo free percussion albums recorded, a stunning meditation on rhythmic complexity. Atavistic recently re-released the long out-of-print recording, including the previously unreleased "Kurze Studie," which is featured here.

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