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JENS JOHANSSON

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Sweden


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Jens Johansson biography
Swede JENS JOHANSSON was born in Stockholm, 2nd November 1963, son of the much respected Swedish jazz pianist Jans Johansson, and brother of drummer and sometime musical partner, Anders. As a child he took piano lessons, enjoying baroque music and some modern composers, e.g. Stockhausen, Ligeti. However, JENS lost interest in piano relatively quickly because the strict tuition did not include improvisation. He also showed an early interest in mathematics, reflected in some of his more structured compositions. Fortunately he renewed his keyboard studies but more as a hobby, eventually becoming involved in an amateur local rock band. In 1982 he was recruited into a Swedish metal band, SILVER MOUNTAIN, and recorded a record with them. Managing to avoid Swedish compulsory military service in 1983, which also meant loosing the chance for further academic studies, he left for California and joined Yngwie Malmsteen's RISING FORCE. Records and world tours ensued, staying with Malmsteen until 1989. JENS also played with DIO between 1989 and 1990.

Like Anders, he began an ongoing collaboration with JONAS HELLBORG in 1989, when it is said that HELLBERG in recognising their talents, felt the need to rescue the JOHANSSON brothers from the mediocrity of RISING FORCE. As a result the brothers became intimately involved in HELLBERG's wide range of music experiments of the period, producing a number well-received jazz rock fusion, progressive and other avant-garde recordings (released by HELLBERG's Day Eight Music label), including "Dissident" (DEM 027), "Unseen Rain" (1992, DEM 028 - an acoustic piano trio record lead by GINGER BAKER), the hard core progressive fusion record "e" (1992, DEM033), and the near-perfectly played thrash metal of THE SHINING PATH on "No Other World " (1992, # DEM029). JENS co-founded a progressive blues metal project, THE JOHANSSON BROTHERS, and recorded a self-titled record (1993, ZERO XRCN 1127, ARCD 002). In 1996, with a different line-up, they recorded, SONIC WINTER (Pony Canyon), this time under the name JOHANSSON, with Yngwie guesting on guitar. Both albums are now available as a two for one released by the brothers' own label, Heptagon (HECD021/022) Since 1994 to present time, JENS has toured extensively with the progressive metal band Stratovarius and has also recorded three full-length albums with this group (one live album). He made the "Heavy Machinery" with ANDERS (1995, ## HECD-011) and guitarist Allan Holdsworth guestin...
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FissionFission
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Ten SeasonsTen Seasons
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JENS JOHANSSON discography


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JENS JOHANSSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Fjäderlösa Tvåfotingar
1991
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Johansson Brothers
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
Ten Seasons
1995
3.39 | 9 ratings
Heavy Machinery (with Jens Johansson and Allan Holdsworth)
1996
3.05 | 2 ratings
Sonic Winter
1996
3.92 | 4 ratings
Fission
1997
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Last Viking
1999

JENS JOHANSSON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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0.00 | 0 ratings
The Johansson Brothers / Sonic Winter
2000

JENS JOHANSSON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

JENS JOHANSSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Heavy Machinery (with Jens Johansson and Allan Holdsworth) by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.39 | 9 ratings

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Heavy Machinery (with Jens Johansson and Allan Holdsworth)
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Excellent work of modern fusion power trio. Great and not very usual for late 90-s technical guitar -led jazz rock of highest standard.

For me, this album is more Alan Holdsworth work, even if Johansson brothers participation is very important. I really can hardly remember so good balance of technical skills, melodies, improvisations recorded at the time this album was released . Even comparing with Allan Holdsworth's works,released under his own name, this album is really great work!

Alan Holdsworth's participation gave not only great guitar sound (and great name) there, but bring excellent improvs atmosphere to usually more rock-oriented Johansson's music. Rare very successful combination on the border of jazz fusion and instrumental rock.

Must have release for any Holdsworth fan, very good music for all jazz rock fans as well.

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 The Last Viking by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.00 | 3 ratings

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The Last Viking
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I remember when this album was released in Brazil with a different (and much better) cover. I bought it without even listening to it because I thought there were simply too many excellent musicians involved to be a bad record. Well, I learned two things after that: first, I should have listened to The Last Viking before I spent my hard earned money on it. Second, even excellent musicians working together dont´t exactly mean it´ll always turn out into an excellent work.

Granted: it´s not really a bad record. But when you think of all these fantastic people playing, one would expect something at least very good. Jens Johansson had made quite a name for himself playing with Ingwie Malmsteen´s Rising Force (together with his brother Anders, also featured here) and, especially, Stratovarius. Michael Romeo (Symphony X) is one prog metal´s best guitarrists and singer Göran Edman (once also a Malmsteen´s Rising Force member and now on Karmakanic, among others) has a great voice. Quite a dream team for this kind of work.

However, The Last Viking suffers from a very bad production (the bass is almost inaudiable) and a lack of strong songwriting. Some parts are good, like the second track. Burning Eyes, that reminds of good latter day Deep Purple stuff. But most of the time the songs just sound disappointingly short, not well arranged and many seem to be hakf baked. I don´t know about Johansson´s other, more Jazz rock oriented, works, but this one didn´t convince me at all. Romeo is seldom heard, unlike anything he has ever done before or since. A truly waste of great musicanship.

If you´re a fan of the guys who play here, let me warn you: listen before buying. It might spare you from the big disappointment I had at the time. Rating: two stars because of some (brief) good moments. This one is for collectors and completionists only.

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 Fission by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1997
3.92 | 4 ratings

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Fission
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Ovidiu

4 stars A great and unbelieveble complex musical offering from one of the most dangerous brothers tandem in music THE JOHANSSON BROTHERS!They are both famous worldwide,especially because their stunning work with the Swedish guitarrero YNGWIE MALMSTEEN,but also from collaborations with RONNIE JAMES DIO,STRATOVARIUS,BENNY JANSSON,HAMMERFALL and many others!They are very skilled in playing even pure metallic music,however their musical education offers them the most perfect possibility to express theis fantastic qualities in the fusion ,jazz rock fusion area!Even the album is under the name of JENS JOHANSSON brother edited-the keyboards wizzard,ANDERS -the mad drummer is dynamite here too!The album called FISSION can be called untre technical progressive fusion,some others call it even hardcore fusion!It's an avalanche of crypted and super sofisticated rhythms and over difficult music,purelly technical and sometimes really tough to get the musical dig to the limit! Very complex,and that's why this type of an album is a true candy for amateurs of unconventional fusion,extreme in the musical approach for ultra technical fusion!The true highlights of the album,among the other compositions ,which are all sensational-technically speaking-are those where SHAWN LANE pusjes some fabulous solos,which trully enlight the album-I speak here about ACROSTIC STIBBOLETH and the opening HOODED STRANGERS- 2 impressve and catchy tracks where LANE really smokes-as usual-we complete the information!MIKE STERN is another heavy name which is present here on 3 tracks and this is giving to the album another dimension!STERN's play is more aggressive than usual,some scarry technical chops are breathtaking even and it's 200% really spectacular too! In conclussion a very good album for fans of ultra technical fusion,for SHAWN LANE's fans a must have and for good music lovers a very valuabe piece in any serious collection! 4.5 STARS FOR PURE TECHNICAL FUSION MADNESS, A FORGOTTEN MUSICAL PEARL!

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 The Johansson Brothers by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.00 | 1 ratings

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The Johansson Brothers
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars Good vibrations

This album is the first out of three albums that the two brothers, keyboardist Jens and drummer Anders Johansson, made under their last name. For those of you who don't know the history of these guys, they both used to play in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force in the 80's. But don't be fooled, the Johansson brothers have a much wider set of influences that stretches far beyond the narrow boundaries of Neo-Classical Metal. This can be seen on their (especially Jens) extremely diverse output. They have also made an album together with famous Fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth as well as collaborated with such diverse artists as Ginger Baker, Ronnie James Dio and Mike Romeo of Symphony X. Jens has also played keyboards on many bands and artists albums including Blackmore's Night. The musical interests of the two brothers extend to experimental Jazz-Rock/Fusion, progressive Power Metal, Classical, World and more. The present album is more in the Deep Purple category but with many progressive aspects. I would probably put this album in the Heavy Prog category.

The Johansson brothers are obviously very skilled on their respective instruments and not surprisingly the sound is strongly dominated by keyboards and drums but there are also bass and guitars. There are a couple of instrumentals, but most of the tracks have vocals. The keyboards are mainly organ, synthesisers, some piano and (something that sounds like) a harpsichord (even if I'm pretty sure that it is produced with electronic keyboards). The vocals are very bluesy and almost soulful and would fit in nicely in any classic bluesy Hard Rock band. Deep Purple might come to mind, but the music here is much more melodic during the vocal parts and much more progressive and jazzy during the instrumental parts. Most of the songs are based on melody and not on instrumental workout. Most of the many keyboard solos are appropriate within the context of the songs and never too excessive. This is not at all an album concerned just with showing off chops.

The last track is a cover of The Beach Boys' Good Vibrations played in Deep Purple style with an organ solo. The song itself is about five and a half minute, but the track runs to over 21 minutes of silence with some noise at the very end. So don't expect an epic here!

Compared to the other two albums they did, Sonic Winter and especially The Last Viking, this debut is slightly immature. This first album has been made available as a two-for-one 2CD release together with the band's second album. This is probably the best way to get this album and both are good albums. However, their best album is the third, The Last Viking.

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 Sonic Winter by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.05 | 2 ratings

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Sonic Winter
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Heavy Prog!

This album is the second one that the two brothers, keyboardist Jens and drummer Anders Johansson, made together. For those of you who don't know the history of these guys, they both used to play in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force in the 80's. Malmsteen also plays on this album as a guest, which is very interesting since this is a very different kind of music compared to that of Rising Force. The Johansson brothers have a much wider set of influences that stretches far beyond the narrow boundaries of metal music. This can be seen on their (especially Jens') extremely diverse output. The influences on this particular album are Jazz and Classical music as well as classic bluesy hard rock. I would probably put this album in the Heavy Prog category.

The Johansson brothers are obviously very skilled on their respective instruments and the guitar shredding of Malmsteen is clearly recognizable, but quite sparse ? he appears only in a couple of the songs. The overall sound is strongly dominated by keyboards, drums, bass and vocals with some guitar solos (not all played by Malmsteen). The keyboards are mainly organ, synthesisers, some piano and (something that sounds like) a harpsichord (even if I'm pretty sure that it is produced with electronic keyboards).

The vocals are very bluesy and almost soulful and would fit in any classic bluesy hard rock band. Deep Purple might come to mind, but the music on Sonic Winter is more melodic during the vocal parts and more progressive and jazzy in the instrumental parts. The longer tracks are instrumentals and consist mainly of some very good instrumental workout. Still, this is not an album concerned just with showing off chops. The shorter songs are based on melody and not on instrumental workout. Most of the many keyboard solos are appropriate within the context of the songs and never too excessive.

There is here a nice balance between bluesy hard rock songs with some quirks, and more experimental instrumentals. The various influences are perhaps not as well integrated as they might have been, but this is a worthwhile album.

Good, but non-essential!

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 The Last Viking by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.00 | 3 ratings

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The Last Viking
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars The last of it's kind

The two brothers, keyboardist Jens and drummer Anders Johansson, has so far made three albums together (plus one together with guitarist Allan Holdsworth). The Last Viking was the last one they did and this one is quite different from the others. The Last Viking is clearly less jazzy and also, at least on the surface, less progressive than the two other Johansson Brothers albums and even more so compared to the straightforward Jazz-Rock of Heavy Machinery (the one they did with Holdsworth). But The Last Viking is also more consistent and, on the whole, much better in my opinion.

For those of you who don't know the history of these guys, they both used to play in Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force in the 80's. For this album they enlisted Mike Romeo from Symphony X on guitars and Göran Edholm on vocals. The former is strongly influenced by Malmsteen's playing and the latter also used to sing for Malmsteen. But even if The Last Viking has some minor similarities with Yngwie Malmsteen's music, and also to that of Symphony X, these influences are not too apparent. The Last Viking has a much warmer and melodic sound that would be foreign to these metal bands, and the Johansson brothers have a much wider set of influences that stretches far beyond the narrow boundaries of metal music. This can be seen on their (especially Jens') extremely diverse output.

The Johansson brothers are obviously very skilled on their respective instruments and Romeo is a great guitar player, but this is not an album based on shredding and showing off chops. On the contrary, these songs are strongly based on melody and not on instrumental workout. They do burst out in many short, often extremely fast paced and impressive keyboard and guitar solos, but these are always appropriate within the context of the songs and never excessive. It is also clear that the three instrumentalists work together, and it is never a matter of just providing a backdrop for only one of them to show off. The instrumentalists share about equal space in the sound, which I like a lot.

We find here a very nice balance between up tempo songs, ballads and instrumentals. The material is very melodic. The ballads and the two instrumentals are great counterpoints to the more fast paced metal songs. On the surface this is rather conventional 80's metal, but at the same time it is not conventional at all. Below the surface we find a rich sonic palette and a strong sense of melody. The Jazz and Blues influences of earlier Johansson Brothers albums are almost gone, as are the more experimental edge, but there are still strong Classical influences here. Many would probably find this music a bit cheesy, but I find it cute and charming. I must say that I like this album a lot more than I like Symphony X or most of Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force's output.

Many progressive rock and metal fans probably notice that the songs here are rather short, but song length is not a necessary feature of progressive rock music. Is this Prog? Prog Metal? Or just conventional 80's metal with some progressive influences? I'm not sure, but I am pretty sure that this can appeal to many fans of these genres.

The vocals are very good and In The Mirror especially has excellent harmony vocals. The lyrics are perhaps not too interesting and are often about love and man's relation with nature (and Vikings?!). Again, some would find this cheesy, but I find it rather charming. You cannot take it too seriously, as I'm sure they don't do themselves! The keyboards sound like organs, pianos and harpsichords (even if I'm pretty sure that everything is produced with electronic keyboards). Everything has a sound that I do not recognize from somewhere else.

I enjoy this album! Give it a try!

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 Heavy Machinery (with Jens Johansson and Allan Holdsworth) by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.39 | 9 ratings

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Heavy Machinery (with Jens Johansson and Allan Holdsworth)
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

2 stars Maybe I shouldn't review an album like this that I simply don't bother to listen to more than once, pressing the NEXT button several times to make it a quicker task. There is a type of music that everytime seems to leave me cold, and if it could be summarized in a word, I guess the word would be JAMMING. A kind of music where the emphasis is in the technically superb playing itself, not in the contents of the music, ie. emotions, if you like. (This holds true to 'art music' as well: a virtuoso Paganini violin solo is pure torture to me!) Here you hear a power trio of a drummer, a guitarist (Allan Holdsworth, who is considered as one of the top axemen in the rock/jazz world) and a keyboard player (with a heavy rock background). All the tracks seem to be in the same vein, fast and tight playing. "Modal groove riff sequences with long improvized stretches", right. Not my cup of tea.

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 Heavy Machinery (with Jens Johansson and Allan Holdsworth) by JOHANSSON,JENS album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.39 | 9 ratings

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Heavy Machinery (with Jens Johansson and Allan Holdsworth)
Jens Johansson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This is one of those special projects that doesn't happen often, when a few marvelous players get together to do a truly liberated collection of music. The Johansson Brothers (Sweden) have been making great heavy prog for years with many top people and this is one of the best documents of that run, putting Jens (keys), Anders (drums) and master axeman Allan Holdsworth in the same room to weave some spankin' progressive jams. This mercurial combination makes Heavy Machinery one of the hottest and hippest instrumental CDs around.

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