Can you tell us about your new album?

Stockholm Jazz Orchestra functions more like a jazz collective than a big band. I am surrounded by accomplished soloists, composers, and bandleaders, each with a career extending far beyond Sweden’s borders. With this album, Horizon, I delve even deeper into my vision of creating freedom for the band’s members, much like a piano trio or quartet, but all within the framework that personifies a big band.

One of the most remarkable comments I received following a concert with the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra during our South Africa tour in 2017 was from a young female music student. She was genuinely fascinated by how we, as a big band, could perform the music as if it were a quartet. In retrospect, I now realize that all the music I compose for larger ensembles aims to provide a sense of personal involvement for everyone and allows space for each individual’s unique personality.

Horizon contains 9 tracks, where all the songs or arrangements are dedicated and specially written for a soloist and a member of our band. It’s a significant challenge but also a privilege to write for some of the members I’ve not only toured with for almost 20 years but also consider close friends. I aim to create a musical framework where the soloist feels completely liberated while also allowing myself to communicate and challenge through the large ensemble.

What other projects are you currently involved in?

Already next week, I’m flying over to London to spend three days in the studio with the renowned singer and artist Claire Martin. I’ve had the privilege of working side by side with her as a pianist for several years around the world. A new album is in the works, set to be released in the fall of 2024 on Stunt Records, featuring guests like Joe Locke, vibraphone and an all-Swedish piano trio (Daniel Fredriksson – drums and Niklas Fernqvist – bass).

I also look forward to bringing out the double bass and commencing on a more extended tour this spring with pianist Joey Calderazzo in Northern Europe. A musician I’ve known and collaborated with for more than ten years, yet I’m fascinated every time by his inexhaustible well of ideas. But the current priority, of course, is to take my big band music out into the world. The financial reality catches up when dealing with 16 people on tour, but my overarching goal is for us to make our way to the UK and Germany during the fall of ’24.

What are you currently listening to and what was the last CD or download you bought?

The latest album I bought was probably Nduduzo Makhathini – In the spirit of Ntu, a close friend of mine who is an exceptional pianist and composer from South Africa.

Emma Rawicz – Chroma, Emma, an incredible saxophonist and progressive composer, whom I’ve had the opportunity to witness live throughout the year.

Even though I come from “the land of Spotify” (Sweden), I still prefer physical copies. I miss the old record stores, of course, but I spend a lot of time on the Bandcamp platform where it’s easy to discover new, more niche music. When, like me, one travels extensively, I always seize the opportunity to discover and be inspired by new music on the local scene.

What is your all-time favourite album and why?

“What is jazz?” – the question that we’ve been attempting to answer since the inception of jazz, with very mixed results. Instead of attempting a contrived and lengthy response, I usually fetch a copy of Miles Davis – Kind of Blue, saying, “I don’t know, but for me, this is the sound of Jazz music.

Even though it’s among my early records, I still find myself astonished and overwhelmed by the music created on this day, March 2, 1959, at Columbia Studios NYC. It continues to inspire me for new music, which probably emerges now and then in much of my productions. I also had the great privilege of playing and working with the master drummer Jimmy Cobb, who is the drummer on the legendary album, adding an extra dimension for me personally.

Who has caught you attention recently that we should be listening out for?

When I’m in my hometown, Stockholm, I occasionally work as a teacher at the Royal Conservatory, where I get the chance to meet young jazz musicians at the beginning of their careers. For all of you who believe that jazz is facing its demise, I can announce that it’s quite the opposite. Wherever you go in the city, there’s a jam or concert featuring young musicians playing at an incredibly high level, and with a passion that will keep the music alive for a long time to come.