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Ulf Wakenius: Confessions of A Vagabond

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Happenstance may play a role in turning dreams into reality, but anyone who's ever realized a burning ambition will appreciate just how much hard work has paved the way. Two phone calls out of the blue almost twenty years apart opened doors to Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius, that in the first case he could only have dreamt about, and in the second, he could never have imagined. In 1997, in fairly dizzying circumstances, Wakenius suddenly found himself in pianist Oscar Peterson's quartet, with whom he would go on to tour the globe countless times during the jazz legend's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Momento Magico

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If guitarist Ulf Wakenius' Vagabond (ACT Music, 2012) was a highlight in a discography that stretches back thirty years to Urban Experience (Dragon, 1984) then Momento Magico--which possibly raises the bar still further--serves as an anthology of his influences both old and new. Wakenius has toured the world extensively for decades, so it's perhaps unsurprising that the rhythms and melodies he's encountered have increasingly influenced his sound and broadened his vocabulary. On this sparkling solo effort Wakenius' six strings entertain the colors of Brazil, Mali, India and China, entwined with the jazz and classical hues that make him one of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Momento Magico

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Momento Magico is a solo outing from Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius, an exploration of three acoustic instruments--steel and nylon strung guitars and acoustic bass guitar. Wakenius undertakes this exploration across a mix of self-penned tunes and works by writers as varied as Erik Satie, Charles Trenet and Sixto Rodrigues. Wakenius is an impressively adaptable player, who's resumé includes work with Ray Brown, Youn Sun Nah and, most famously, Oscar Peterson (The OP in “Notes For OP And Wes"). He's also the product of many diverse influences, which he acknowledges in his sleeve notes. Malian musicians such as Vieux ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Vagabond

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Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius is perhaps best known for his ten year stint in pianist Oscar Peterson's trio, following in the footsteps of guitarists Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and Joe Pass. Wakenius clocked up enough road miles with Peterson to have traveled to the moon and back, and he also toured extensively and recorded with bassists Ray Brown and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. These heavyweight associations have tended to overshadow his own projects as leader, which date back more than two decades to his group with drummer Jack DeJohnette, saxophonist Bill Evans, trumpeter Randy Brecker, pianist Niels Lan Doky and bassist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Signature Edition 2

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For the second in its Signature Edition compilations, dedicated to--and selected by--its vanguard artists, ACT profiles a guitarist who only became an exclusive artist in 2005, with the release of his homage to pianist Keith Jarrett--Notes From the Heart--but whose career truly demands retrospection and reevaluation. Unlike Signature Edition 1's fusion guitarist Nguyên Lê, who has released nearly a dozen labels for Siggi Loch's German label, Swedish six-stringer Ulf Wakenius has, in addition to a handful of ACT guest appearances, only delivered one other album as a leader for the label, 2008's Love is Real--a dedication to pianist Esbjörn Svensson ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Love is Real: Ulf Wakenius Plays the Music of Esbjorn Svensson

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While the recent proliferation of piano trios has proven the pop/rock world can provide plenty of grist for jazz exploration, few are as successful as e.s.t. in writing instantly (and consistently) memorable original material that's rife for reexamination by others. The democratic trio attributes its writing to the group, but pianist Esbjorn Svensson is clearly its main ideas man.

Ulf Wakenius mined iconic pianist Keith Jarrett for the sublime Notes from the Heart (ACT, 2005). But this virtuoso Swedish guitarist, who worked with Oscar Peterson for ten years near the end of his life, took a sparer approach to Jarrett's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Notes from the Heart

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In the liner notes to Notes from the Heart, Ulf Wakenius' tribute to the compositions of Keith Jarrett, the Swedish guitarist states, “It's impossible to recreate his music--you can only approach it from a totally different angle. But rather than a radical reworking of Jarrett's music or a reproduction of his far-ranging solo trips, Wakenius has distilled many of Jarrett's signature shorter compositions to their essence, presenting them in respectful arrangements (mostly around the four-minute mark) that fans of Jarrett's work will recognize quickly.

In doing so, he has created an appealing and accessible trio album that showcases both Jarrett's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Notes from the Heart

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One of the most significant artists of the past forty years, pianist Keith Jarrett continues to base his ever-evolving style on a remarkable stream-of-consciousness approach to improvisation. But with Jarrett focusing his energy almost exclusively on his longstanding Standards Trio and improvised solo piano performances for the past two decades, it's easy to forget that he's also written a wealth of memorable compositions. Still, Jarrett asserts that improvisation is nothing less than composition in real time, and he's absolutely right.

But Jarrett's influence reaches beyond pianists. His ability to combine an almost fragile lyricism with richer complexities and imbue the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Tokyo Blue

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Guitarist Ulf Wakenius, who has performed with a number of jazz heavyweights from Oscar Peterson and Michael Brecker to Ray Brown and Jack DeJohnette, writes that his new release, Tokyo Blue, is designed to express the various aspects of his musical temperament, from sweetness to swing. The album is evenly divided between the two components, with five ballads and five medium- to up-tempo numbers, on each of which Wakenius shows his admirable versatility and technique.

Wakenius plays unaccompanied on Michel Legrand's “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," Django Reinhardt's “Nuage" and a couple of film themes, Charlie ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius: Forever You

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Now and again an album appears that, in its gentle simplicity and unassuming veracity, makes a strong impact as much by virtue of all the things it is not as by all the things it is. Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius, heard on this session solely on classical guitar, clearly has the knowledge and ability to produce an album that highlights his formidable technique and rich harmonic knowledge. Instead, however, he has chosen to release Forever You , an album that is characterized by a quiet grace and unadorned melodism. But it takes an artist with a broad musical vision and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ulf Wakenius Quartet/Jim Mullen: Live/Burns

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The guitar has always been on the back burners of jazz instruments; for every player who cites Wes Montgomery or Jim Hall as an influence, there are probably a hundred who list Miles, Coltrane, or Monk as their primary source of inspiration. However, there are many guitarists out there who are making exciting music that not only features awesome chops but also a willingness to take risks and push boundaries; certainly two features of which jazz can never get enough.

Ulf Wakenius comes roaring in from Sweden with an excellent live disk recorded in his native country. Wakenius, who has ...



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