Ulf Åkerhielm bass, Gunnar Åkerhielm piano, Kari Sjöstrand tenor sax, Sebastian Voegler drums
The band started in 2010. Ulf and I had played together ever since we got together in the early 80's. In 1985, our son Gunnar was born - and then 25 years passed... Sebastian became our absolute choise for trio to become a quartet. Since then, our unique close interaction and characteristic sound has been heard at hundreds of clubs and venues around Sweden.
Ulf Åkerhielm bass
Doublebass player Ulf Åkerhielm is an outstanding master on his instrument. He has been a member of the Swedish Radio Philharmonic Orchestra for several years, he plays even traditional folk music made for violin with bow on the double bass, and styles in jazz from the 20´s to free form and modern art music. In this group he makes a perfect combination between the driving accompanist and the inspired great soloist in full freedom.
Gunnar Åkerhielm piano
Even young pianist Gunnar Åkerhielm is deeply anchored in the jazz tradition. After more then 10 years of education and performing in different groups, he really has found his own style with a piece of Monk, George Lewis, Bud Powell, and many others, but mostly Gunnar himself, playing with high intensity, swing, presence, and sometimes a glimpse of humor.
Sebastian Voegler drums
The fourth member of the quartet is drummer Sebastian Voegler, raised in Germany and New York, nowadays a Stockholmer. Sebastian is, because of his sound, his empathetic high freequent timing and splended technique, one of the most demanded drummers in Sweden. With his smooth pattering and undulating elasticity he really fits more then perfect to this group. He merge the music organic and simply swinging.
"When John Coltrane was asked by the Swedish jazz critic Carl-Erik Lindgren, ”Who are some of your favorites?”, his answer was ”All of them". After listening to Nålsöga (”The Eye of the Needle”), I want to answer similarly: ”All of them—especially Kari Sjöstrand.”
Here she and her quartet offer us a set of radiant, exciting, and swinging jazz. All the tunes are Kari’s own compositions. In the blues Eko (Echo), she plays a solo that has everything, and so do her colleagues, Gunnar Åkerhielm, superb on piano, and Ulf Åkerhielm on bass. Ulf, one of Sweden’s most gifted bass players, contributes a fantastic solo on Bortvalsen (Waltz Away).
Kari has created a special mood with her title ballad Nålsöga— extending Lars Gullin’s legacy of Nordic beauty and melancholy. On Polska från Djupaviken, I’m particularly struck by the feeling for form that all these soloists have: Ulf’s structured arco bass, Gunnar’s free but masterly piano playing, supported by Sebastian Voegler’s sensitive drumming.
It’s tempting sometimes to draw comparisons with other great stars of jazz, but here it is completely unnecessary. This quartet stands firmly on its own artistic legs. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such joy as this music has given me. Each composition has its own unique personality. Kari, I imagine, might reply: ”Are you surprised?”