Monday 18 Oct // 21:00

NILS LANDGREN FUNK UNIT (Sweden)

Swedish trombonist Nils Landgren — aka “The Man With the Red Horn” — has become one of Europe’s most successful jazz musicians, taking his special brand of funk to audiences around the world. The list of his collaborations includes a wide range of extraordinary artists such as ABBA, Randy Crawford, The Crusaders, Maceo Parker, Eddie Harris, Herbie Hancock and Wyclef Jean to name just a few.

Being part of the official Swedish delegation to the Shanghai Expo, he will bring his 7-piece Nils Landgren Funk Unit also to Beijing to present the latest album „Funk for Life“ (on ACT label) and make everyone dance.

The Funk Unit was characterised as follows: The “grooving band, which encouraged the younger members of the audience into a dance frenzy, but which was also taken seriously by the greying jazz snobs” (Spiegel), proved that it could be counted as “the best funk band in Europe today” (Stereo).

Members of the Funk Unit are:
Nils Landgren – trombone, vocals
Magnum Coltrane Price – bass
Magnus Lindgren – sax & flute
Jonas Wall – sax & flute
Robert Ikiz – drums
Sebastian Studnitzky – keyboard & trumpet
Andy Pfeiler –  guitar

With his smoking, hard-hitting “Funk Unit”, the man with the Red Horn has
been responsible for a bunch of successful CDs over the past years. His
concerts from Stockholm to Beijing have been met with ecstatic acclamation.
In duo with pianist Esbjörn Svensson, he has elevated Swedish folk music to
the level of subdued works of art. As a singer he shows where “you can
always most reliably find the mind: in the middle of the heart” (Die
Welt).He is a world-class soloist and artist with heart and soul: Nils
Landgren.

Born in 1956, Nils Landgren began playing drums at the age of six, before at
last discovering the trombone at 13. Between 1972 and 1978 Nils studied
classical trombone at the music college in Karlstad with David Maytan and at
the university in Arvika with Ingemar Roos. Meeting the legendary Swedish
Folk-Jazz pioneer Bengt-Arne Wallin as well as the fantastic trombonist Eje
Thelin persuaded Nils to move from strict classical studies to improvisation
and to begin the development of his own approach.

After his graduation Nils moved to Stockholm to work as a professional
trombone player. He was soon touring with the most successful Swedish pop
star of that time, Björn Skifs’ “Blue Swede” who got to number 1 in the US
pop charts with “Hooked on a feeling”. In 1981 Thad Jones invited the Swede
into his new big band project “Ball of Fire”, to take the lead-trombone
chair. Ever since that time Nils Landren has been involved in most styles
equally: jazz and rock, soul and hip hop, big band sessions, and by his own
reckoning, at least 500 albums including such internationals stars as ABBA,
The Crusaders, Eddie Harris, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Wyclef Jean and Herbie
Hancock.

In 1983 Nils’ debut album “Planet Rock” was released, followed by
“Streetfighter” in 1984, “You are my Nr 1” in 1985, “Miles from Duke” with
Bengt-Arne Wallin in 1987, “Chapter Two 1”, in 1987, “Chapter Two 2” and
“Follow your heart” in 1989. Between 1985 and 1987 Nils also performed as
actor, singer, trombonist, and dancer in over 360 performances of the
Swedish “play of the year”, SKÅL, as well as appearing in several TV-films
as an actor.

1992 saw the first performances and recording of the Nils Landgren “Unit”.
The final breakthrough beyond Scandinavia came first in 1994: it was at the
Jazz Baltica Festival at Salzau in Germany that the “Unit” became the “Funk
Unit”. The album “Live in Stockholm” (ACT 9223-2) was released that year and

was the foundation for the collaboration with Siegfried Loch and his then
young ACT label.

The next Funk Unit release, “Paint It Blue” (ACT 9243-2), was one of 1997’s
most successful albums and received Germany’s Jazz Award. The following tour
of over 100 dates gave Nils Landgren and the Funk Unit their breakthrough in
Germany. Inspired by his mentor Bengt-Arne Wallin, Nils Landgren ventured
into non-funky realms with a re-working of traditional Swedish folk songs:
“Swedish Folk Modern” (ACT 9257-2), his first duo with the pianist Esbjörn
Svensson, followed up by “Layers of Light” (ACT 9281-2), an even gentler
evocation.

Between January 1998 and January 2001 Nils Landgren was also a member of the
NDR Big Band in Hamburg, but continuously touring throughout with the Funk
Unit worldwide. During this time three albums were released: after “Live in
Montreux” (ACT 9265-2) appeared in 1999 “5000 Miles” (ACT 9271-2) and in
September 2001 “Fonk da World” (ACT 9299-2), which was presented live at a
special 3 day festival in Hamburg dedicated to Nils Landgren’s music. The
“grooving band, which encouraged the younger members of the audience into a
dance frenzy, but which was also taken seriously by the greying jazz snobs”
(Spiegel), proved that it could be counted as “the best funk band in Europe
today” (Stereo).

As artistic director of the illustrious Berlin Jazz Festival in 2001 Nils
Landgren set up a concise overview of the current directions in Scandinavian
jazz and was awarded the “Tore Ehrling Prize” by the Swedish Composers’
Federation for his “special contribution in bringing worldwide attention to
Swedish jazz”.

A further aspect of Landgren’s multi-facetedness has been shown since 1993,
when the album “Ballads” (ACT 9268-2) was recorded, and on its release in
Germany in 1999 showed for the first time his talent as an emotional ballad
singer. With his tasteful tenor voice he has been compared to the
introverted style of Chet Baker. In 2002 he undertook a recording of a
sequence of love songs on a “Sentimental Journey” (ACT 9409-2) which was
enthusiastically received by public and critics alike. “We want more of

this” proclaimed the WOM Journal and so was able to follow this through the
production of the album “I Will Wait For You” (ACT 9418-2) where the singer
Rigmor Gustafsson – having previously made her name as a guest on
“Sentimental Journey” – took centre stage. It stormed into the jazz charts
in Sweden and Germany, reaching number 1 and number 2 respectively.

In 2004, after a self-imposed sabbatical of almost two years, Landgren went
full steam ahead with his Funk Unit and produced the acclaimed Platinum
„Funky Abba“ album (ACT 9430-2); his own personal hommage to one of the
greatest pop bands in history. 2005 marks the new album “Creole Love Call”
(ACT 9707-2) together with the legendary keyboarder Joe Sample of The
Crusaders, in which Nils Landgren can be heard again primarily as a
vocalist.

In December 2005, Nils Landgren celebrated Christmas in a church in
Stockholm with some friends from the Scandinavian music scene and thus
fulfilling a long-time dream. This unique recording of the most beautiful
Christmas songs from the middle ages to our time was released in December
2006 on CD and DVD, went gold in Sweden and Germany within a month of its
release, and climbed to #2 of the German Jazz charts: “Christmas with my
Friends” (ACT 9454-2).

2007 brings the Funk Unit back again. The eighth funk album demonstrates the
same killer groove as its award-winning predecessors lead us to expect. Nils
Landgren definitely has it: the “Licence to Funk” (ACT 9455-2).

Given the resounding success of JazzFest Berlin ’01, Landgren has been
nominated again in 2008 as artistic director of the JazzFest Berlin for the
coming three years. At the end of 2008 he will release a sequel of his
successful first Christmas album: “Christmas With My Friends II” (ACT

9476-2).

Music knows no borders, music is freedom – this is Nils Landgren’s credo.
For every record of his new Funk Unit album “Funk For Life” (released in
spring 2010) sold, one Euro goes to the Funk Unit – Médecins Sans Frontières
(Doctors without borders) project ”Funk For Life” in Kibera Nairobi. By
purchasing the CD the buyer will contribute in making life for people in
Kibera just a bit easier. And he helps to guarantee that from now on, music
will be a central part of the education in Kibera.

  • Start: 21:00
  • Tickets: Rmb 100 / 50 (presale/students)