Take Five With Oscar Utterstrom
Trombonist Oscar Utterstrom plays his horn with a warm and sensitive tone. Mixing straight ahead jazz with elements of rock and electronica, the Oscar Utterstrom Quintet is the ultimate experience in improvised music. Oscar's writing mixes his Swedish roots with the American jazz
tradition, giving the finished product a unique sound. To top things off, the use of electric trombone and a DJ makes this group one of the most exciting groups on the scene today. Their new CD, Home, was released in May of 2008.
Oscar is very active on the music scene in the southeastern US. Internationally he has performed in China, South Korea, and Europe. When not performing with his own group, he can be heard with groups such as Afinke Salsa Orchestra, the Christina Watson Quintet, Halfbrass, and the Nashville Jazz Orchestra. As a freelance trombonist, Oscar has had the opportunity to perform with acts such as the Temptations, Wycliffe Gordon, Jeff Coffin, David "Fathead" Newman, Nils Landgren, Kirk Whalum, the Four Tops, and My Morning Jacket.
Teachers and/or influences?
This list grows everyday from playing with different people and listening to new recordings. However, just to name a few teachers: Ivan Paduart, Nils Landgren, Phil Wilson, Jeff Galindo, and Hal Crook. Influence range from trombone greats to other instrumentalists and vocalists including Erik Truffaz, Nils-Petter Molvaer, Esbjorn Svensson, Dave Douglas, Chris Potter, Stephan Eicher, Uri Caine, Lars Danielsson, Wolfgang Haffner, Bjork, Jeff Coffin, and Peter Gabriel.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I was in a summer music camp when I was 15-16 years old. We were playing traditional brass band (European brass band) literature and this kid started improvising over a psalm on flugelhorn. It was the coolest thing I had ever heard! That sparked my interest in jazz.
Your sound and approach to music: I like to mix improvised music with rock beats, electronica, and funk.
I often use effects pedal with my trombone in order to create different soundscapes (it is a trombone after all). The challenge for instrumentalists is to keep the music interesting without communicating with words. How do we keep the listeners' attention (including the musicians on stage)? I find that by using different sounds (I often use a DJ on stage too), you never know what's coming next. Just like sound comes before technique on your individual instrument, it is also true for the band as a whole. Interesting melodies, grooves, and sounds will stop the brain from knowing for sure what's coming next, and just enjoy the ride.
Your teaching approach:
I emphasize a lot on air support. If you have proper air support a lot of other issues take care of themselves. I also try to get my students to improvise, to show them how it can be fun and creative and not something scary.
CDs you are listening to now:
Anders Bergcrantz, About Time (Stunt Records)
Nils Landgren Funk Unit, Live in Stockholm (ACT)
Esbjorn Svensson Trio (e.s.t.), Live in Hamburg (ACT)
Jiggs Whigham & Wolfgang Kohler, Two Too (Summit Records)
Bart van Lier, Live at the Tor (Maxanter).