Bugge Wesseltoft

Live, Wesseltoft became a master of matching an audience’s mood to tempo and spontaneously developing pieces of rising intensity that drove crowds wild

Wesseltoft, Jens Christian “Bugge” (1 February 1964, Porsgrunn, Norway). Father jazz guitarist; school orchestras; punk band age 16; professional musician at 19 active on Oslo music scene in pop and rock world as well as jazz with the Oslo Groove Company (a big band), U&Z, the Knut Riisnæs Quartet and Et Cetera; by now widely recognised as up and coming talent; 1990 joined bassist Arild Anderson’s band alongside other young, up and coming talent in Nils Petter Molvær, Bendik Hofseth and Eivind Aarset, Sagn (1990) and Arv (1993) that incorporated Norwegian folkloric elements into jazz; also appeared on Jan Garbarek’s I Took Up the Runes (1990); formed a duo with the gifted experimental jazz singer Sidsel Endresen appearing on Exile (1994), an association that would prove enduring; collaborations with Billy Cobham, Terje Rypdal and Jon Eberson; period of experimentation followed, improvising with DJs turntable scratching and sampling in Oslo’s techno dance scene.

Formed his own ensemble in 1995 New Conception of Jazz that incorporated these rhythmic aspects together with an ostinato bass and four-to-the-floor drum rhythm underneath against what was essentially freely improvised jazz; live he became a master of matching an audience’s mood to tempo and spontaneously developing pieces of rising intensity that drove crowds wild; frequently played Club Blå in Oslo where audiences queued around several blocks to get in; this was the beginning of Norwegian Nu-Jazz that found voice in Wesseltoft’s New Conception of Jazz (1996) which effectively “broke” Nu-Jazz across Europe with sales in excess of a quarter of a million; in 1997 he recorded a solo piano album for Siggi Loch’s ACT label called It’s Snowing On My Piano that also sold in excess of 200,000 and played an important role in establishing the label; in 1998 he appeared on Jan Garbarek’s double CD set Rites; by now he was extensively touring his New Conception across Europe and as far as Japan; another four New Conception of Jazz albums followed: Sharing (1998); Moving (2001); Live (2003) and Film Ing (2004).

In 2001 Wesseletoft and Nu-Jazz made it into the Arts section of the Sunday edition of The New York Times headlined “Europeans Cut In With a New Sound and Beat”; 2008 a New Conception of Jazz anthology was released — New Conceptions of Jazz 1994-2005 —containing previously released and unreleased material to critical acclaim; as the Nu-Jazz craze died (Wesseltoft never liked the term) he was frequently featured on the European festival circuit as a solo act, conjuring up impressive, spontaneously improvised electronic soundscapes against a large screen that displayed computer triggered visuals; his own Jazzland label, formed in 1996 with the release of New Conception, has gradually grew in stature as an independent, with artists such as Atomic, Beady Belle, Eivind Aarset, Torun Eriksen, Wibutee, Håkon Kornstadt and others; 2011 he debuted Bugge n’ Friends; 2016 reformed New Conception with all-girl line-up; trio with Henrik Schwarz and Dan Berglund; also released own solo acoustic piano recordings, including Everybody Loves Angels (ACT) in 2018.

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