Jazz interview with jazz pianist and keyboardist Daniel Karlsson. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Daniel Karlsson: – I grew up in a small town in the middle of Sweden called Kristinehamn. I started with piano by the coincidence that there was one in my family house. I started to explore it when I was a very little child.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the your musical instrument?
DK: – I was lucky to go in a primary school (Djurgårdsskolan) that put a big value in culture. We were taught in music, theatre and made lots of concerts and plays within the frame of schoolwork. The school also supported our own initiatives to start ensembles and more.
JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?
DK: – I’ve always listened to a lots of different music and tried to imitate what I hear. Thats basically it.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
DK: – My practicing routines are very square. Weekdays, when i’m not busy or touring, I get up at 6:30 ,having breakfast with my kids and give them a ride to the boat, since we live on an island in the Stockholm archipelago. I’m back home again at 7:40 starting practicing immediately. Usually I start with something monotonous like a scale-pattern or similar. Sometimes I also do an attempt to play some classical music. I never really practice only rhythm particularly except from the fact that I use to do my exercises with a metronome and always try to keep attention to my timing and swing. I practice a lot with my left hand at the moment. Trying to keep a comping pattern with my left and at the same time play freely with my right. Always to a metronome.
JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?
DK: – I’m still searching for them. I like open chords where I can change tonality during my improvisations.
JBN.S: – What do you love most about your new album 2018: <5>, how it was formed and what you are working on today.
DK: – We had the intention with this album that it should be more acoustic and less production. It ended up the opposite way around. I think that’s what I like the most! The fact that we gave up our intentions and just let the work end up where it wanted to go. It’s a kind of improvisation in every little step of the procedure of making an album. You have to be brave and affirm your ideas even though they may be different from what’s expected from you.
JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year?
DK: – Tigran Hamasyan, The ancient observer. Unfortunately I missed his concert in Stockholm last october, but my ex partner was there. She said it was awesome. I met Tigran once when we played a double bill with Magnus Östöm group and his band in Junas jazz festival in France a couple of years ago. I’m a big fan!
JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?
DK: – For me its not a balance between the both of them. Rather that they belong to each other in a supportive way. One leads to the other.
JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?
DK: – My instant thought is our gig with my trio at the Jarasum international jazz festival 2016 in Korea. We played during such a heavy rain. The roof over the stage didn’t withstand the rain so everything on stage went soaking wet. My fingers splashed to the keys and I had to hide my pedals and electronics under the piano for shelter. Despite the conditions and the fact that the grand piano probably would get ruined, the promotor insisted that we should go on playing. And the audience didn’t give up. It was crowded throughout the whole concert.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
DK: – It’s undoubtedly our long career with the group Oddjob in which I’m a founding member. We are like a musical family. A collective in which we’re sharing everything from rights to tasks. We celebrated 20 years last fall.
JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?
DK: – This is a tricky one. In my opinion jazz is an experience that has to mature into your system. It’s in jazz music’s nature that you don’t appreciate it the first time you’re exposed to it. Like a kid trying blue cheese or a glass of wine. The standard songs that jazz musicians insist to play still today were old already when I was a kid. Honestly I don’t really understand what’s the deal with ”standards”. I get bored …
JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?
DK: – The flow is my spirit in whatever shape it may appear. Freely thinking during a long jog or painting a boat hull. Being present in every moment is my religion. Nothing else.
JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?
DK: – My expectations are to see result from all the really hard work we’ve been doing with the trio during the last years. And it’s finally happening. Gigs are coming in. I get some encouragement every day. You’re one of them:-) Anxiety=Trump
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
DK: – I would wish for a bigger organising aim among musicians. A real will to gather in joining trade unions and similar for reaching a higher status for musicians in negotiations with, for instance, streaming companies, record labels and more. Things can be changed!
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
DK: – Touring with my trio in Spain, Portugal, UK, and France for the first time. All in 2018. Returning to venues I’ve visited earlier with Oddjob, Magnus Öström group etc but now with my own music. I’m exalted. I’m also looking forward to all the Italian clubs and festivals my trio will play this year.
JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?
DK: – The tradition of learning by ear gives the genres similar output maybe … Honestly, I know nothing about folk music.
JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?
DK: – Since ECM joined Spotify i’ve listened a lot to my old ”youth favourites”. My CDs (the ones I didn’t trow away already) are stored in a box in my sauna since a couple of years. Although, I like the fact that ECM refused streaming for so long. I’ve recently been listening to Bobo Stensson’s trio album. One of my old Swedish role models.
JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?
DK: – Yeah! Let’s go! I would like to visit the future. Let’s say 10 years from now. How is the market by then? What services are in charge? What are the conditions for musicians and composers? Who’s doing profit from music?
JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself …
DK: – Your questions have covered almost everything. Nothing else comes to my mind. Feel free to correct my language or ask me if something is not clear enough.
JBN.S: – Thanks very much for answers!!!
Interview by Simon Sargsyan
CD review: Daniel Karlsson Trio 5
The Daniel Karlsson Trio has since their album debut Das Taxibåt in September 2013 established themselves as one of the most interesting constellations in Swedish and European jazz. Not least through the magnificent hat trick brought home by their sophomore albumFusion for Fish, released in August 2014 that wontheSwedish Radio’s Jazz Group of the Year Award 2014, Swedish jazz magazine OJ’s Golden Disc 2015 as well as the Swedish Jazz Grammy2015. Ears were opened abroad as well, their music met with press accolades and frequent airplay in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Italy, in the UK and Ireland.
Their 2016 release, their third album, At the Feel Free Falafel also garnered a lot of attention with favourable reviews and extensive radio play. The same is also true about their fourth full length title Ding Dongreleased in 2017. An album that has just given them another nomination for a Swedish Grammy Award for best jazz album in 2018.
As before their flow and rather astonishing production of new music continue… Five years after the dynamic trio’s record debut we are proud to present their fifth albumaptly titled No. 5.Positively brimming with creative music in seven new songs from Daniel Karlsson’s prolific pen, as melodic and powerful as always, maybe even more so this time. From the pensive opening tracks Dubious Whisper and Let Me Tell You One More Thing over the wildly swinging Meet the Moiners with its maelstrom middle part to the final No Answer Ballad the trio once more prove themselves as a force to be reckoned with.
5 – Track listing: 1. Dubious Whisper 2. Let Me Tell You One More Thing 3. Salzburg 4. Days Long Lost and Gone 5. In the Tambourine Forge 6. Meet the Moiners 7. No Answer Ballad
The Daniel Karlsson Trio are:
Daniel Karlsson, piano, keyboards
Christian Spering, double bass, cello, dilruba& tar shehnai
Fredrik Rundqvist, drums & percussion