The hour-long recording takes the listener on a journey through sounds from Brazil, Cuba, Spain, Turkey and the Baltic countries, creating a holistic view of where music and Nilsson's own sensibilities originate. The jazz inspired harmonies, driving Sambas and danceable time signatures from the Balkans create an unforgettable sound held together by the band’s fine musicianship, original compositions and arrangements.
Each member of the culturally diverse band brings his or her own flavor to the music, creating a cohesive thread in a cross cultural music exchange that holds jazz at its core. With Nilsson leading on flute and alto flute, the band also features guitarist Davy Mooney (New Orleans); tenor saxophonist Eric Trudel (Baltimore); bassist Yuka Tadano (Tokyo); and drummer Cody Rahn (San Francisco).
Here's what has been said about this album:
"Do you hear that sound from the Northern skies? It’s Elsa Nilsson with something new, passionate and beautiful to say with her flute and her pen. Check out her music and let her light your skies."
- Robert Dick, famed jazz flutist and mentor
“Elsa has a beautiful conception of music.” -Chris Potter, renowned jazz saxophonist
"I would've never thought that innocent face encompassed so much creativity" -Hubert Laws, award-winning jazz flutist
“Elsa's sound is strong and she is expanding horizons as a flutist.” -Jovino Santos Neto, Grammy nominated composer
“The CD is absolutely phenomenal. The writing, the soloing, the orchestration, is right on the money. But what makes the recording special is that it sounds like a real band. The choice of instruments and the orchestration is perfect.”
- Tony Moreno, acclaimed jazz drummer and NYU Faculty
Swedish-born flute player Elsa Nilsson's music is profoundly playful and widely influenced. She believes the beauty of music is how it transcends cultural boundaries, and she accentuates this in her compositions by mixing cultural elements to create a sound distinctly her own. Nilsson has built a solid career and reputation upon her belief that all folk music (including jazz) has a common thread, and that by weaving those threads together, a deeper, more layered understanding among varying cultures can be reached.
As a small child in Sweden, Nilsson often accompanied her father during fishing trips, but occasionally opted to be left alone on an uninhabited island rather than be seasick on the boat. It was on the island that Nilsson recalls writing her first song, at just six-years-old. "My dad told me not to take off the life vest and that he'd be back in a few hours," she recants. "So I spent the time running around, singing at the top of my lungs, and collecting sheep skulls."
This innately ambitious, independent sensibility has been nurtured in Nilsson for as long as she can remember. As a result, The Elsa Nilsson Quintet plays jazz like the Vikings who ventured out of the cold and fled to Brazil. Their shows are a tour de force featuring arrangements of Swedish folk music, complex funky originals with odd meters that feel good. In her playing Nilsson takes the flute to its fullest potential employing everything from folk styles to extended classical techniques creating a sound that is lyrical and warm.
Nilsson was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she started her love-affair with music at the early age of 2. Her father placed her in front of a microphone with his all Swedish ex-navy sea-shantys band and said, "sing child, sing." By the time she was four, she was singing harmonies with her younger brother Albin. At age five, she began playing piano. And by the time she was accepted to Hvitfeldtska gymnasium (a classical conservatory style program in Gothenburg) at age 14, she had been playing flute for three years, teaching herself how to improvise by playing along to records.
In her own words: "I love backpacking and I would spend my summers as a teenager in the Trinity Alps of California. I go a little crazy when I don't practice, so I decided to pick up a smaller instrument that I could take with me to the back country. I fell in love with the flute, and some of my first experiences playing the instrument were improvising alone by Alpine lakes and on mountain peaks."
After her early years traveling between Gothenburg in Sweden and California in the States, Nilsson followed her heart and then-boyfriend to Seattle on a plane ticket that was intended to be roundtrip back to Sweden. But true to her self-reliant, free spirit, Nilsson instead auditioned for -- and was accepted immediately into -- Cornish College Of the Arts. In that moment, she decided to stay in Seattle and her return ticket went unused. "I had packed two suitcases and left home three days after graduation," she says. "Even though I got dumped by that boyfriend ten days later, I am so grateful for it... I wouldn't be where I am now without it."
Upon completing school in 2008, Nilsson spent a few years teaching and playing in Seattle before moving to Brooklyn, New York in September of 2010. Making a home for herself, she has been consistently performing, learning, and teaching since her arrival. She has studied with Chris Potter, Peter Bernstein, Kenny Werner, Jean-Michele Pilc, Robert Dick, Jamie Baum, Brad Shepik and many more in the process of obtaining her Masters degree from NYU's Jazz Program. Nilsson has performed with Kenny Werner's and Brad Shepik's NYU ensembles, The Jim Knapp Orchestra, Jovino Santos Neto, Ben Thomas, Chuck Deardorf, Dawn Clement, Michael Owcharuk, Darrius Willrich and more.