Since the early 1990’s Bugge Wesseltoft (his first name is conveniently pronounced Boogie) has made an impressive, truly post-modern transition from the Nordic jazz traditions exemplified by the ECM record label, to forming his own label Jazzland in 1996, a label created by Bugge to release his own recordings, but it quickly grew beyond this initial premise; Jazzland soon hosted many emerging jazz groups which tread the fine balance between jazz and electronics. Wesseltoft shares his vision of music and inspiration, and gives Kyiv audiences a taste of what they can expect at the gig.
Let’s start from the beginning of your career – you’re a self-educated musician – how did you manage to do that? Who helped you? When did you understand music is what you wanted to do in life?
My father is a guitarist and I believed from an early age I learned by listening to him. I played the piano from the age of two but always just by myself, by ear, without teacher or music scores. After spending most of my youth listening and paying music I decided at age 19 to become a musician.
You first played with rock and punk bands, later switched to jazz – how did that happen?
I have always had a great interest in music, all kinds of music. So it’s natural for me to take inspirations from various sources. However the improvisation part is important to me, I don’t like being constrained, and whatever style I try to do I will always incorporate improvisation, which may also be called jazz.
You inject your form of jazz with electronica – do you think jazz in its pure form is not of interest anymore?
The idea of jazz is and will always be interesting because it’s the nature of jazz to fuse music together in a new way. I love this! Trying to play jazz like they did in the 40s, 50s or 60s is completely uninteresting to me.
Jazz music is much about improvisation and the interaction of the musician and the audience. Does this interaction/energy exchange at a concert matter to you?
Absolutely! This is the key in music! To create a conversation with your audience – the special and unique thing with jazz is that every moment and concert is new to the audience, much different to classical music or rock, where most music presented live to an audience is already created and can easily turn into a playback.
What attracts you personally in the style of music you create? Why do you think people love it?
I’m attracted by having lot of open ends and possibilities in my music. Both sound, groove and style wise. Being able to throw in any idea on the spot, also I’m fascinated by using electronic elements in an improvising aspect. Finally it’s all about the energy I manage to create with the listeners.
You’ve collaborated with many well-known musicians – can you name who impressed you the most and why?
Oh...so many great musicians. I’m impressed mostly by musicians and artists who are open-minded and dare to be open in a concert situation.
What kind of music do you listen to in your car, while exercising, or having breakfast?
In the car...mostly my wife’s music – Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston, very loud...ouch, skiing and biking I listen to the sounds around me, at breakfast it’s classical music.
You’ve travelled a lot – which country impressed you the most and why?
Such a difficult question...So many fantastic places! I love great audiences. Lviv in June was great, so are Istanbul, Shanghai, and Beirut. Generally I love the eastern part of Europe and Asia.
So tell us more about what you are bringing to Kyiv, it’s not your first time to the Ukrainian capital.
I’m looking very much forward to come back to Kyiv! I generally find Ukrainians more interested in music than Western Europeans! The programme I will bring is mixed. One acoustic solo-piano set featuring jazz, and one electronic set featuring laptop, electronics and grooves in combination with acoustic piano.
Bugge Wesseltoft (NO, jazz)
Kyiv Conservatory (Horodetskoho 1-3/11)
6 October at 19.00
by Kateryna Kyselyova and Olga German