An adept Swedish guitarist with a lithe, supple style, Ulf Wakenius can play a broad range of music, but is best known for his straight-ahead and post-bop jazz work. Born in April 1958 in Halmstad, Sweden and raised in Gothenburg, Wakenius played guitar from early childhood. At first self-taught, he later studied at the Gothenburg Conservatoire. Initially interested in contemporary blues, he later moved into jazz. By his late teens he was already known as a session musician, and in the mid- to late '70s he was a member of the Swedish bands Sundance and Mwendo Dawa. He later toured Europe, and in the early '80s he and fellow guitarist Peter Almqvist formed Guitars Unlimited, recording Introducing Guitars Unlimited Duo (1983) and Acoustic Shokk (1985). Wakenius also recorded with Svend Asmussen and visited South America, playing concerts and recording. In these years, he also began working with bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, establishing a strong working relationship that lasted until Ørsted Pedersen's death in 2005. In the early '90s, Wakenius was a member of Grafitti with drummer Dennis Chambers, bass player Gary Grainger, and keyboard player Haakon Graf, recording 1992's Good Groove. Among many other jazz musicians with whom Wakenius has worked and sometimes recorded are Art Farmer, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, and Clark Terry, to name a few. Wakenius has also led his own bands, notably a strong group featuring Chris Minh Doky and his brother Niels Lan Doky, Randy Brecker, Lars Danielsson, Bob Berg, saxophonist Bill Evans, and Jack DeJohnette that released the album Venture on L+R Records in 1992. He also led the Stellar Quintet, which included Michael Brecker and Ray Brown, and began working with Brown on recordings such as Seven Steps to Heaven (1995) and Summertime (1997). In 1997, Wakenius joined Oscar Peterson's quartet, touring internationally with the pianist and appearing on the following year's A Summer Night in Munich. This particular edition of the pianist's group also included Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Martin Drew. That same year, he also delivered his own Dig In, featuring pianist Gösta Rundqvist, bassist Yasuhito Mori, and drummer Jukkis Uotila. Following the turn of the millennium, Wakenius has stayed active delivering a number of efforts for the ACT label, including the 2005 Keith Jarrett tribute Notes from the Heart, 2008's Love Is Real, and 2010's Signature Edition 2. He then paired with bassist Lars Danielsson and accordionist Vincent Peirani for 2012's Vagabond, followed two years later by Momento Magico. In 2017, he joined his son, guitarist Eric Wakenius, for the duo album Father & Son.
© TiVo Staff /TiVo
© TiVo Staff /TiVo
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Jazz - Released April 25, 2008 | ACT Music
Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Guitarist Ulf Wakenius is known for his recordings as a sideman with both Oscar Peterson and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, but this session is a bit different from his earlier efforts as a leader. Focusing exclusively on the compositions of the late Esbjörn Svensson, Wakenius is removed from typical bop/post-bop settings. Joined by bassist Lars Danielsson (who doubles on cello), pianist Lars Jansson, and drummer Morten Lund, plus guests including the Radio String Quartet Vienna, trumpeters Till Brönner and Paolo Fresu, trombonist Nils Landgren, and guitarist Eric Wakenius, the leader does a remarkable job putting his own stamp on the music of his late countryman. The tense "Dodge the Dodo" gives Wakenius room to show off some Gyspy-like chops on acoustic guitar, though in a setting that blends elements of rock and modern jazz, with Eric Wakenius wrapping the piece with a piercing electric guitar solo. The gentle ballad "Believe, Beleft, Below (Love Is Real)" has a country air, while "Eighthundred Streets by Feet" incorporates classical guitar and elements of tango. Fans of E.S.T. will enjoy this tribute to the late Esbjörn Svensson. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
Jazz - Released October 28, 2005 | ACT Music
In spite of the success of pianist Keith Jarrett over his long career, his compositions generally have not been explored very frequently by other jazz musicians. Guitarist Ulf Wakenius, recognized for his work as a leader and being a member of the Oscar Peterson Quartet, explores 14 of Jarrett's works, playing acoustic guitar and occasionally overdubbing a rhythm line. He's accompanied by Lars Danielsson (who plays bass, cello, and piano) and drummer Morten Lund. The relaxing ballad "Memories of Tomorrow" is a gentle bossa nova that translates very well into a guitar-driven vehicle. "The Windup" is a playful calypso with a touch of funkiness, while Danielsson's spacious piano provides the perfect complement to Wakenius in the duo performance of the bittersweet ballad "Mon Coeur Est Rouge." Lund's drumming is consistently attentive and never overdone. For jazz fans who have never embraced Keith Jarrett's music, this brilliant tribute to his compositions may open their ears to appreciate his lyrical, often striking style of writing. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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