What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Ulf Wakenius

This week we feature jazz guitarist Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius. This fine guitarist, who has played with many jazz greats including Oscar Peterson has a very comprehensive website with MP3s, video clips and many other features.

Online Bio

Background Ulf Wakenius was born in Halmstad, Sweden on April 16, 1958. He began playing the guitar at the age of 11, inspired by other guitarists in the neighborhood of his new hometown, Gothenburg.

After picking up the guitar Ulf never looked back. In the beginning he was inspired by virtuoso electric blues guitar players but soon moved to more jazz-orientated music. John McLaughlin became Ulf's new guitar hero. (John later wrote liner notes for one of Ulf's solo-albums).

At the age of 17 Ulf was already established as a jazz musician playing with different Swedish groups. During the following years he toured all over Europe. In the beginning of the '80s Ulf founded the duo "Guitars Unlimited" together with Peter Almqvist. They toured in many parts of the world and appeared frequently on Swedish Television. The highlight in their career was a performance in the 1985 Melody Grand Prix, a historic event which was seen by 600 million viewers, (probably the the largest audience a jazz-guitar duo has ever had).

In the mid-'80s Ulf also received the opportunity to record a solo album in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. He was fortunate to be able to gather together such fantastic musicians as Sivuca, Luizao, Paolo Braga (Elis Regina), Nico Assumpcao (Milton Nascimento) among others. The record became a hit in Sweden with considerable airplay, even making it to the Swedish Top - "Svensktoppen", a programme where one seldom hears any jazz. The "Brazil venture" was the beginning of a life-long love of the Brazilian culture. Later Ulf returned with Oscar Peterson and performed for 35,000 people in Sao Paolo.

In the late '80s Ulf began playing with the Danish bass giant Niels-Henning Orstedt-Pedersen, and with whom he still plays. Their collaboration has been very fruitful, resulting in concerts all over the globe, several recordings, playing for the then-President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and numerous international TV-shows.

In the beginning of the '90s Ulf started to work in different projects together with American and European top musicians. The group Grafitti was formed with the rhythm section from the John Scofield group, the members being the phantom drummer Dennis Chambers, bassist Gary Grainger, Hakon Graf on keyboards and Ulf on guitar. They toured in the United States and Europe and recorded a CD which was very well received. He also started a collaboration with the bass icon Ray Brown. Ulf has 10 solo albums to his name and has recorded several albums as a sideman together with many jazz legends.

At Present Ulf Wakenius has since 1997 held what may be the most prestigious spot in jazz for a guitarist - membership in the Oscar Peterson Quartet. His predecessors have been such legends as Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, and Joe Pass. He has performed at such classic jazz venues as Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Blue Note and played for large crowds around the world.He has also appeared on American television (CBS) and Tv Globo (Brazil) with Oscar Peterson. Last year he recorded "Trail of Dreams" with Oscar Peterson and Michel Legrand, for the Telarc label, and during recent years he has also played with such outstanding musicians as, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Phil Woods, Clark Terry, Johnny Griffin, Toots Thielemans, Jack DeJohnette, Max Roach, Jim Hall, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, James Moody, Roy Hargrove, Randy Brecker. He has recorded two CDs, also for Telarc with the great Ray Brown: "Seven Steps To Heaven" which became number one in the U.S. jazz charts, and "Summertime" which was voted as one of the top ten albums of `98 in America.Lately he has lead a Stellar Quintet of his own featuring:Mike Brecker and Ray Brown. Last year he did a sold out U.S. tour with Oscar Peterson. The highlight of the tour was the Hollywood Bowl concert with 17,000 people in the audience.

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot in Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc plays Heritage guitars and endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps, great for jazz (and anything else!)

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