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Elsa Nilsson

As a musician and a flutist, Elsa’s sound reflects the sense of awareness and urgency of this generation. A generation that is more aware than ever of our self destruction, after decades of habitual planetary abuse which also happens to be what propelled us into the technologically inclined world we are in today. Her music imbibes the energy of Rock N Roll, the cadence of street protest, the visceral improvisations of Jazz and the compositional language of Classical music.

The Story From Gothenburg, Sweden to Brooklyn, New York City, Elsa’s musical journey began at the age of two, singing in her father’s ex-navy choir. She began playing piano at five and composing at six, running barefoot on islands off of the coast of Gothenburg while her father fished for mackerel. At 14 she started spending her summers backpacking, and picked up the flute to have an instrument she could take with her, learning the flute by improvising on the mountaintops of the Trinity Alps of Northern California.

After attending Hvitdfeldtska - a classical conservatory-style program in Gothenburg, Elsa landed in Seattle. She had a return ticket, but rather than returning to Sweden she attended Cornish College of the Arts where she completed her Bachelor's degree in 2008. Two years later she moved to Brooklyn and began her work on her masters in the NYU Jazz Studies program. Since completing her Masters in 2013 she has been actively working as a bandleader and side woman in a myriad of creative music projects. She is currently an adjunct professor at The New School College of Performing Arts where she teaches Rhythmic Analysis.

Elsa’s current projects include “Atlas Of Sound”, a series of location specific musical suites starting with a trio collaboration with Jon Cowherd and Chris Morrissey exploring the depth of the ecosystem around the Northern California Redwood Forests; Esthesis Quartet exploring the elementary sensations of being human with Dawn Clement, Emma Dayhuff and Tina Raymond, a quartet with Sebastian Noelle, Matt Aronoff and Mark Ferber often found at The 55 Bar playing songs about birds and perspectives, and “Thyme” with Santiago Leibson, Marty Kenney, Rodrigo Recabarren where they explore the correlation between poetic speech and jazz. She has studied with Chris Potter, Peter Bernstein, Kenny Werner, Jean-Michele Pilc, Robert Dick, Jamie Baum, Gary Schocker, Keith Underwood, Karl Berger, Brad Shepik and many more.

The Performer If you’ve never been caught in a sudden downpour amidst a tornado with the earth splitting open beneath your feet, you’ve never heard Elsa live. It starts with the chatters dying off as the room turns quiet - feels like another night in another room. The band is introduced and you can sense the nervous energy of the room as the music creeps up. The first steps of an evening stroll down a familiar path with strange new faces. But each time she’s just feeling out the room, scoping out its depth and nooks so she can fill it with her sound. And you’ll know when that moment happens, because whatever thoughts were lingering a second earlier, it’s no longer there. Instead, you’ll wonder if you’ve never really heard the flute before.

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Album Review

Esthesis Quartet: Time Zones

Read "Time Zones" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

The four members of Esthesis Quartet, flutist Elsa Nilsson, pianist Dawn Clement, bassist Emma Dayhuff and drummer Tina Raymond, each live in different parts of the United States, but, as this album shows, when they get together their playing has an easy and natural rapport. With flute as a lead instrument, the group sometimes have the cooler sound associated with West Coast jazz as on the breezy “Hollywood" and the gentle “First Light." However, over the course of ...

Album Review

Esthesis Quartet: Time Zones

Read "Time Zones" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Time Zones is the second album by the Esthesis Quartet, comprised of four accomplished women, all whom do indeed reside in different time zones. Flutist Elsa Nilsson, originally from Sweden, lives in Brooklyn, NY; pianist/vocalist Dawn Clement makes her home in Denver, CO; bassist Emma Dayhuff lives in Chicago, drummer Tina Raymond in California, where Time Zones was recorded. The four first met at various festivals, conventions and other sessions around the country, drawn together by a ...

Radio & Podcasts

Elsa Nilsson, Too Many Zooz, Gard Nilssen, Claire Michael & Other New Releases

Read "Elsa Nilsson, Too Many Zooz, Gard Nilssen, Claire Michael & Other New Releases" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu

It's been another hot sweaty week... and so we decided to open today's edition with some hot sweaty genre-defying music courtesy of Moon Hooch, Too Many Zooz and Meute, then we keep the simmer pretty steady, deep and beautiful.Happy listening!PlaylistBen Allison “Mondo Jazz Theme (feat. Ted Nash & Pyeng Threadgill)" 0:00 Moon Zooz “Moon Zooz Part 2" [Unreleased] 0:16 Host talks 4:19 Too Many Zooz “Action" Action—Single (Self-released) 5:45 Host talks 10:43 MEUTE “Slow Loris" Taumel ...

Album Review

Dawn Clement, Elsa Nilsson, Emma Dayhuff, Tina Raymond: Esthesis Quartet

Read "Esthesis Quartet" reviewed by Paul Rauch

The Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 and 2021 mandated that musicians find ways to connect without gathering in person. The pandemic produced a litany of recordings that along with photos of masked loved ones, will serve as tacit reminders of two years of solitude and isolation. For Esthesis Quartet this meant gathering on Zoom to keep the creative juices flowing, and to continue to write inspired music with the quartet in mind. While it is undeniable that this recording bears the ...

Album Review

SXNE: For Human Beings

Read "For Human Beings" reviewed by Paul Rauch

Flutist Elsa Nilsson is a strong voice performing on an instrument that has historically received secondary status in jazz music. Often the second or third instrument for saxophonists such as Eric Dolphy, Charles Lloyd and Tia Fuller, it would seem even the most passionate fans of the genre have relegated the flute as such. Modern times in jazz have however, cast that notion aside. Flutists covering a wide musical swath through the annals of modern jazz include the eclectic sounds ...

Album Review

Elsa Nilsson: Salt Wind

Read "Salt Wind" reviewed by Neri Pollastri

Svedese di Goteborg, enfant prodige (a cinque anni suonava il piano, a sei compose la prima canzone), trasferitasi per studio prima a Seattle e poi, nel 2010, a New York, Elsa Nilsson è una giovane musicista che suona tutto lo spettro dei flauti, compone le proprie musiche e canta con voce e interpretazione personali. Questo Salt Wind la vede alla testa di un quartetto con chitarra, basso e batteria, assieme al quale interpreta brani da lei firmati, piuttosto ...

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Performance / Tour

Elsa Nilsson CD Release Party at Rockwood Music Hall on March 26 - Video Premiere on February 18 - Exclusively On All About Jazz!

Elsa Nilsson CD Release Party at Rockwood Music Hall on March 26 - Video Premiere on February 18 - Exclusively On All About Jazz!

Source: Scott Thompson Public Relations

New Video Premiere February 18. Exclusively at All About Jazz! “I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to be open, vulnerable and honest—in hopes of creating a space that allows the listener to do the same."—Elsa Nilsson February 18, 2017- New Video Premiere: “Someone for Something" off of Elsa Nilsson's new album Salt Wind is a composition depicting the sensation of New York City's ability to derail thoughts. A recurring idea is interspersed between a long flowing melody ...


Performance / Tour

Flutist Elsa Nilsson New CD: "Salt Wind" Video Release Show, January 6th at Rockwood Music Hall (NYC)

Flutist Elsa Nilsson New CD: "Salt Wind"   Video Release Show, January 6th at Rockwood Music Hall (NYC)

Source: Scott Thompson Public Relations

Flutist and composer Elsa Nilsson's new album Salt Wind is a deeply personal expression with influences from every aspect of her colorful life. Born in Gothenburg, Sweden and raised by a California hippie, Nilsson had her feet planted in two very different cultures, leading her to seek commonalities wherever she can find them. She believes the true beauty of music is its ability to create common ground, and she weaves all kinds of folk music (including jazz) to find a ...


"Elsa has a beautiful conception of melody and music." - Chris Potter

"...so much creativity" -Hubert Laws

“Elsa Nilsson is my favorite flutist of the Twenty First Century. She just blew my mind playing live with Amanda Ruzza on Som do Brasil at WKCR NY . From Jazz to the Folklore of Northern Europe nothing can stop her; she will go on. Next stop- Brasil!” -Jassvan DeLima, producer and Host - Som do Brasil WKCR-FM 89.9 NY

"Elsa's sound is strong and she is expanding horizons as a flutist." -Jovino Santos-Neto

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Primary Instrument



New York City

Willing to teach

Beginner to advanced


Teaches at plateu music in Klahanie Issiquah, 2 years. Tought at the Swedish culture center in Seattle Teaches privately at students house.



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Time Zones

ears&eyes Records


Esthesis Quartet

Orenda Records


Transit Net

Filtron M


For Human Beings

Bumblebee Collective


Salt Wind

Self Produced


Already There Yet

Self Released



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