“Please play this album at my funeral…”

Critically acclaimed Swedish harpist Stina Hellberg Agback has been active over the last two decades in a range of projects that move between modern jazz, free improvisation, pop and rock.

Her latest release “Unrulers” with the project Hexabit came out in October 2022, featuring two drummers, lap steel guitar, saxophone and bass.

Today she joins us to share a selection of albums that influenced her playing…

1. Miles Davis/Live Evil

I don’t know how many times I have listened to this album.

I love the diversity of voices, how every player performs individually in this collective work. I think this record has influenced my own version of what jazz is more than any other, the balance between composition and improvisation, jam and arrangement, between strong individuals and a unified group.

2. Ganelin Trio Priority/Live in Germany

This is a mesmerizing recording that is truly the essence of improvised music. If you haven’t discovered the storytelling of improvised music, this is where to start.

I once listened to this record in the car together with stellar violinist Eva Lindal, and because my record was old, the final track was corrupt and we couldn’t listen to the end. It was like not getting to see the end of a movie.

3. John Abercrombie/Timeless

As a string player, I’m always on the hunt for ways to use stringed instruments and to copy their sounds on the harp.

This record is so groovy, so cool, so beautifully played and recorded. Far from everything on this record is possible to copy on the harp, but I think all harpists should listen to this and consider Abercrombie’s beautiful attack and lateness on the beat.

4. Bill Frisell/Gone Just Like A Train

“Blues for Los Angeles” is the perfect composition. And of course Frisell is a one of a kind player, with the similarity to harp players that he is in between genres.

I love how he switches between a raw and delicate sound, always loose, always in the pocket. Please play this album at my funeral.

5. Hen Ogledd/Mogic

I love everything Rhodri Davies does. I love every harp album that is not a harp album but a music album. And I love every album that has a sense of humour.

Does humour belong in music? Anyhow, everybody needs to listen to Hen Ogledd, it will make you happy.

6. Eva Lindal, Anna Lindal/Bäver

These two telepathic sisters have created an album that really shows why the world has been obsessing over bowed instruments for thousands of years. It is so beautiful, so intriguing and so full of experiences and musical maturity, and of course playfulness, in every sense of the word.

7. Wimme Saari/Human

I love this album for the creative ways of joining old, old traditions with present techniques and a little craziness. Although this is not an album that is overflowing with improvisation, this is truly a product of free creative processes.

I really want to put the spotlight on the creativity that is overflowing in northern Scandinavia, caring for an ancient heritage and creatively bringing it into the new era.

8. Nils-Petter Molvaer/NP3

This album was a groundbreaker for me when I first heard it about 20 years ago…

Together with the EST these mixes between synthetic sounds and acoustic instruments, in a setting with lots of improvisation and liberties. NP3 and these sounds have really inspired my album “Winning Isn’t Everything, It’s the Only Thing!” with SHA3K.

To find ways to bring in samples into live improvisation is really something I find interesting.

9. Cuong Vu + Frisell/It’s Mostly Residual

I love that the aesthetic of this album reminds of the Ganelin album, and the reason for loving this album is truly all of the above.

I had the great pleasure to hear Vu live at a workshop at Berklee, and he is one of those musicians that connects the dots for me: liberty at the instrument, openness for contemporary genres, a core of personal improvisation and a collective sound in their groups.

Everything that contemporary “jazz” needs.

Thanks to Stina for taking part! 

You can find out more about her latest release with the group Hexabit via Bandcamp