Karl-Martin Almqvist: Sweden's "Bear" Digs for Roots
While he has lived many years in Stockholm, like most other Swedes, Almqvist does not feel totally at home in the city and often harks back to his rural roots. "In My Flat" reflects this ambivalence and is, appropriately, a rubato, or out-of-tempo blues. "Smalandsviten," the most ambitious composition, is by bassist Augustson. It's full of light and shade, reflecting the Swedish province for which it is named, home, incidentally, of the furniture company IKEA.
For a Swedish band, the quartet is remarkably well traveled, having played festivals in Germany, the Baltic States and in Rochester, New York along with a series of gigs in South America, arranged by bassist Rene Sandoval, who hails from Valparaiso but now lives in Malmo. "Those were wonderful audiences," Almqvist recalls. "The people were just so interested in our music. They queued to see us in Buenos Aires and I remember being nervous that they might have mistaken us for another band. Then someone told us, 'No. They want to hear you because they don't know you. They want to hear something new.' I think that's really fantastic."
Almqvist is featured on his old friend Mathias Landaeus's latest album, Mathias Landaeus goes a long, long way and he plays regularly with the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra and Adam Forkelid's Inner City Quartet.
He also plays classical music. He recently performed a piece written specially for him by his friend, Mats Larsson Gothe with a symphony orchestra based in the northern city of Umea. "It's 15 minutes long but we spent four days rehearsing. I'd really like to do some more work with them." A comment that reflects the Bear's patient, considered approach to music making, whatever the genre.
Karl Martin Almqvist Quartet, Stretching the Portfolio (Prophone, 2008)
Mathias Landaeus, Goes a Long Long Way (Miserobie, 2008)
Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, Plays Stockholm Jazz Orchestra (Dragon, 2007)
Karl Martin Almqvist/Mathias Landaeus Duo, Double Door (Prophone, 2006)
Karl Martin Almqvist, Full Circle (Prophone, 2004)
Karl Martin Almqvist, Karl Martin Almqvist (Prophone, 2002)
Courtesy of Karl-Martin Almqvist