Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Brötzmann – Swell – Nilssen-Love

Brötzmann, Swell and Nilssen-Love met on stage together for the first time in Warsaw Poland in February 2015, first of 12 concerts in 13 days. The trio went off full blast and the immediate response from each member was that they were all looking forward to see where the music would take them the next 12 days. The music went all over the place. Every show was different and the music was pushed further and further. So were the musicians on stage. So was the audience.

Peter and Paal have a 15-year history through various groups and know each other well. Peter and Steve had only met a couple of times in the past and now finally on stage together. Paal's first thought was that here's a trombonist who finally goes against Peter's melodies and lines. The interaction was immediate, spontaneous, hard, humble, respectful in the sense that one can also go against each other to make music. Trust was established right away and towards the end of the tour all three agreed there was more to be accomplished.

Peter Brötzmann is one of the most important and uncompromising figures in free jazz and has been at the forefront of developing a unique, European take on free improvisation since the 1960s. 

Brötzmann first trained as a painter and was associated with Fluxus (Participating in various events and working as an assistant to Nam Jun Paik) before dissatisfaction with the art world moved his focus towards music. However he continued to paint and his instantly recognisable visual sensibility has produced some of our favourite LP sleeves as well as a number of gallery shows in recent years.

Self-taught on Clarinet and Saxophone, Brötzmann established himself as one of the most powerful and original players around, releasing a number of now highly sought after sides of musical invention including the epochal Machine Gun session in 1968 – originally released on his own Brö private press and later recordings for FMP (Free Music Production) the label he started with Jost Gebers.

Brötzmann's sound is one of the most distinctive, life-affirming and joyous in all music and he has performed with almost all of the major players of free music from early associations with Don Cherry and Steve Lacy to regular groupings with Peter Kowald, Alex Von Slippenbach, Han Bennink and Fred Van Hove, the Chicago Tentet (Mats Gustafsson, Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark and more) and various one-off and ad hoc associations with many others including Keiji Haino, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Anthony Braxton and Rashied Ali.

One of the most adventurous and prolific members of the New York free-jazz community, according to Ed Hazell of Signal To Noise, Steve Swell's reputation, work ethic and commitment to excellence has kept him in the forefront of improvised music and a leading voice on his instrument for more than 20 years. 

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Steve Swell has been an active member of the New York music community since 1975. He has established himself as a premiere leader and sideman of some of the most exciting groups ever assembled, giving performances at festivals, clubs and theaters in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America. His composing talents have been recognized the world over. His Suite for Players, Dreamers and other Listeners was voted number 2 in the 2006 Cadence Reader's Poll. Swell’s curiosity and need to create has led him to becoming a much heralded sideman affording him the opportunity to participate as an integral part of groups led by some of the most renown musicians in the jazz and improvised worlds. Among those notables are Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, William Parker, Alan Silva, Roswell Rudd, Jemeel Moondoc, Ken Vandermark, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Roscoe Mitchell, Rob Mazurek, Dave Burrell, Elliott Sharp and Bill Dixon to name a few. 

Swell has forty recordings as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artist on more than one hundred other releases. He has taught master classes at universities, elementary schools, high schools, shelters and community centers all across the U.S, and Europe. He is also a teaching artist in the NYC public school system working mostly with special needs children and was awarded a Jubilation Foundation Fellowship Award of the Tides Foundation in 2008 for recognition of that work. 

Steve is constantly searching new ways in which to express his restless imagination in his music through his composing and trombone playing. says of Swell's trombone playing: We are ever so lucky to have friends like Steve Swell, who plays the damn thing as if that was the last day of his life, injecting the music with huge soul, gravitational pulls towards the right energy channels and astounding technical wizardry. 

He was nominated Trombonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association, 2008 & 2011 and was named Trombonist of the Year, 2008, 2009, 2010 & 2012 by the Argentinean journal, "El Intruso." The Downbeat Critics Poll, selected Steve for the Trombone category in 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013.

Nilssen-Love literally grew up in jazz. He was only five-years old back in 1979 when his parents opened the Stavanger Jazzclub, a venue they operated until 1986. A career in music came as a natural (and encouraged) choice. The young drummer began to work with saxophonist Frode Gjerstad and trumpeter Didrik Ingvaldsen in 1990, three years before he began formal jazz studies at Sund College and the Trondheim Music Conservatory. His first available recording is Enten Eller, a CD by Gjerstad's Circulasione Totale Orchestra, released in 1992. 

Being active in several bands at the same time has always been Paal's deliberate working method. He is constantly conscious about the projects he is in, as his participation in each and one of them is fully dedicated. Playing is not about getting from start to goal, but rather being in an everlasting process, a continuous movement where each new piece of music performed is a prolongation of the latest. Hence, keeping focused and concentrating all energy around what’s happening there and then is of greatest importance - as is the freedom in the music, the ability of being free within the expression. 

Today Paal's portfolio includes Atomic, School Days, The Thing, Frode Gjerstad Trio, Sten Sandell Trio, Scorch Trio, Territory Band, FME, Chicago Tentet, and various duo projects such as with Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, John Butcher, organist Nils Henrik Asheim and noise wizard Lasse Marhaug. He has made numberless performances at festivals and clubs in Europe and USA and participated on more than 100 recordings. He runs his own annual festival – All Ears - for improvised music in Oslo, which is an important part of his musical life, and he plans to start his own recording label for vinyl productions. 

Like Pat Metheny put it in 2002, after having played with Paal at Molde Jazz festival: He is simply one of the best new musicians I've heard during the latest years! And after having heard Paal in 9 different settings at the same festival, Down Beat reporter Dan Quelette stated: His week at Molde proved a revelation: Nilssen-Love is one of the most innovative, dynamic and versatile drummers in jazz!

Current tour dates

Jul 24, 2019 - Jul 29, 2019
Also available on request!


Contact us if you want to offer a date for this tour, and we will advise you on availability.

Malgorzata Lipińska

Brötzmann – Swell – Nilssen-Love
Krakow Nights (NotTwo Records)

Trombonist Steve Swell faces up to what might be one of the toughest challenges in contemporary music on Krakow Nights: how to hold your own against the twin forces of nature represented by German reed iconoclast Peter Brötzmann and Norwegian drum dynamo Paal Nilssen-Love. Already a self-contained unit, the pair has toured and recorded frequently as a duet. With such powerful entities it can be hard to avoid being cast in a supportive role. Though Swell’s talents in such exposed situations have been honed through collaborations with the likes of reedplayers Daniel Carter and Sabir Mateen and trumpeter Roy Campbell, few are as uncompromising as present company.

Recorded in Klub Alchemia, one of Poland’s premier jazz venues, the concert captured here occurred early on during a 2015 European tour. Although Swell and Brötzmann work predominantly in broad primaryhued smears and splatters, the former also delves deep into his bag of tricks. His lines dip and dive as he mixes heraldic fanfares with tightly nuanced bent pitches and muted yelps and whinnies. But it’s not all thunder and lightning. Swell seizes the opportunity to explore timbral possibilities at the start of “Full Spectrum Response” in consort with Nilssen-Love’s tone-color play on untethered cymbals. Furthermore, Brötzmann
paraphrases his elegiac “Master of a Small House” theme at various points during the 37-minute cut, interpolating melodic fragments among his emotiondrenched stratospheric wailing. Shifts between the permutations inherent in the trio occur naturally throughout the four extended tracks.

Evidence that awareness continues even in the midst of the maelstrom is furnished by the staccato sequence of spat-out notes in “Oneiric Memories”, which prompts a machine gun fusillade of clipped cymbal strikes. Further examples of collective endeavor come in a passage of joint riffing in “Scotopia”, followed by the two horns phrasing as one in an impromptu hymnal toward the conclusion of the same piece. A series of interwoven triumphal blasts bring “Road Zipper” to a close, eliciting well-deserved applause for what constitutes one of Brötzmann’s most successful recent releases. — John Sharpe, The New York City Jazz Record

Ein grandioses Naturerreigniss.

Die Soli der drei Herren (die beiden Bläser sind nicht nur musikalisch deutlich gestandene Mannsbilder) kamen allesamt spannend rüber, ein jeder bestach durch Musikalität und Technik. Klar polarisiert Brötzmann durch die Wucht seines Spiels, den bewussten Verzicht auf all das, was der klassische Musikunterricht dem angehenden Holzbläser beibringen will — Brötzmann ist eben ein grandioses Naturereignis, das man sich nicht entgehen lassen darf. — Westfälische Nachrichten, 28.2.2015

The central figure here is drum wizard, Paal Nilssen-Love, a ball of immense, creative energy, who keeps pushing the other members of the trio. Euro free/jazz sax legend Peter Brotzmann has picked a perfect sparring partner here with the equally intense trombone great Steve Swell. This music is often exhilarating to the point of exhaustion but this is not everything we find here. On "Full Spectrum Response," the trio begins with suspense and restraint, just those soft burning embers and then slowly builds up again to some more colossal free yet focused improv. This just might be the best free/jazz disc of the year since it is just-dropping and edge-of-your-seat exciting/crafty throughout. Absolutely mind blowing! — Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

Fast nebenbei zaubert Peter Brötzmann dichte wortlose Dialoge mit den Kollegen, immer extrem emotional und trotzdem mit sehr wachen Ohren. Doch auch die zarten Töne (selbstverständlich nicht klassisch gerade geblasen) hat er auf seiner großen Farbpalette. [...] Das Konzert (bestehend aus einem einzigen langen Set von mehr als einer Stunde Dauer) war bis zur letzten Sekunde spannend. Stets faszinierten ein vertracktes Solo, ein eloquenter Dialog oder das scheinbare Chaos, aus dem sich doch immer wieder Strukturen entwickelten. — Heike Eickhoff, Münstersche Zeitung

Bei dem unverstärkten Konzert gibt es fast nur Vollgas, herrliche Battles zwischen Saxofon und Schlagzeug und einfühlsame Duos zwischen Saxofon und Posaune. Einern Düsentriebwerk gleich strebt das Powertrio zumeist einen Zustand hoher gemeinsamer Energie an, erreicht diesen auch und hält ihn lange. Dabei zaubern die Virtuosen mit dichten Verzahnungen unzähliger Noten und sprengen damit die Plaque aus den Arterien der vielen Zuhörer. Brötzmann hat bei allem Kraftgebläse noch genug Luft für seine Stimmbänder, die oft mitschwingen und sich dann anhören wie eine Riesen-Hummel. Freilich ist der Koloss der Jazzmoderne vom Polarisierer zum „Klassiker" geworden - die von Kowald sogenannte „Kaputtspielphase" ist längst vorbei. — Peter Bastian, Badische Neueste Nachrichten

Very few musicians in the history of jazz and creative music have created a voice as powerful and distinct as as legendary German saxophonist, Peter Brötzmann. Playing with unyielding conviction, he blows with relentless, brutal passion; an honest and innovative voice during a time of despair, devoid of creative respect and sensitivity. — Lloyd Peterson (Music & the Creative Spirit)

Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's mature style is a riveting blend of the power of a rock or drum’n'bass player, the rhythmic freedoms of a contemporary improviser and the sense of detail of an abstract percussionist. — Fordham (London Guardian)


download (6.69 MB)
download (6.22 MB)
download (7.95 MB)
download (8.39 MB)
download (7.84 MB)

Tags: Peter Brötzmann, Steve Swell, Paal Nilssen-Love, Krakow Nights, NotTwo Records
Share this page:           

Soundcloud audio

Latest Events

locationUn Pavé Dans Le Jazz
Toulouse, France More Info
locationAJMI Jazz Club
Avignon , France More Info
locationLe Périscope
Lyon , France More Info
View More Events

Latest News

New Reviews of Steve Swell's Latest Releases

The FreeJazzBlog reviewed Steve Swell’s latest releases 'Live in Copenhagen' (featuring his trio with Peter Brötzmann & Paal Nilssen-Love), and 'The Chicago Plan' (together with Gebhard Ullmann, Fred Longberg-Holm and Michael Zerang), giving them 4 stars. Read more..


Peter Gannushkin, Artacts Festival, March 2015

Brötzmann – Swell – Nilssen-Love Spring Tour Announced

Brötzmann – Swell – Nilssen-Love, whose debut album, "Krakow Nights," released in Poland last Fall on Not Two Records, will be back out on the road this spring! Things kick off in Oslo, Norway on April 13 for a special night at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria. The 10-city European tour includes shows in Oslo, Copenhagen, Salzburg, Wels, Weikersheim, Hannover, Berlin, Schorndorf, Bonn and sets at the Lublin Jazz Festival on April 24. Full tour dates below. Read more..


The Trio live in Krakow. Photo © Krzysztof Penarski

Debut Album from Brötzmann – Swell – Nilssen-Love Out Now

We are excited to announce that the Peter Brötzmann – Steve Swell – Paal Nilssen-Love debut album, “Krakow Nights,” is out now on NotTwo Records. John Sharpe of The New York City Jazz Records reviews the album in the magazine's October 2015 edition concluding that Krakow Nights "constitutes one of Brötzmann’s most successful recent releases." Read more..