|Elsa Nilsson Quintet + Davy Mooney Quartet
Elsa Nilsson, flutes
Jessica Lurie, sax
Jeff McLaughlin, guitar
Alex Minier, bass
Cody Rahn, drums
Davy Mooney, guitar
Jon Cowherd, piano
Matt Clohesy, bass,
Mark Ferber, drums
Swedish-born flute player Elsa Nilsson's music is profoundly playful and widely influenced. She believes the beauty of music is how it transcends cultural boundaries, and she accentuates this in her compositions by mixing cultural elements to create a sound distinctly her own. Nilsson has built a solid career and reputation upon her belief that all folk music (including jazz) has a common thread, and that by weaving those threads together, a deeper, more layered understanding among varying cultures can be reached.
As a small child in Sweden, Nilsson often accompanied her father during fishing trips, but occasionally opted to be left alone on an uninhabited island rather than be seasick on the boat. It was on the island that Nilsson recalls writing her first song, at just six-years-old. "My dad told me not to take off the life vest and that he'd be back in a few hours," she recants. "So I spent the time running around, singing at the top of my lungs, and collecting sheep skulls."
This innately ambitious, independent sensibility has been nurtured in Nilsson for as long as she can remember. As a result, The Elsa Nilsson Quintet plays jazz like the Vikings who ventured out of the cold and fled to Brazil. Their shows are a tour de force featuring arrangements of Swedish folk music, complex funky originals with odd meters that feel good. In her playing Nilsson takes the flute to its fullest potential employing everything from folk styles to extended classical techniques creating a sound that is lyrical and warm.
Nilsson was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she started her love-affair with music at the early age of 2. Her father placed her in front of a microphone with his all Swedish ex-navy sea-shantys band and said, "sing child, sing." By the time she was four, she was singing harmonies with her younger brother Albin. At age five, she began playing piano. And by the time she was accepted to Hvitfeldtska gymnasium (a classical conservatory style program in Gothenburg) at age 14, she had been playing flute for three years, teaching herself how to improvise by playing along to records.
After her early years traveling between Gothenburg in Sweden and California in the States, Nilsson followed her heart and then-boyfriend to Seattle on a plane ticket that was intended to be roundtrip back to Sweden. But true to her self-reliant, free spirit, Nilsson instead auditioned for -- and was accepted immediately into -- Cornish College Of the Arts. In that moment, she decided to stay in Seattle and her return ticket went unused. "I had packed two suitcases and left home three days after graduation," she says. "Even though I got dumped by that boyfriend ten days later, I am so grateful for it... I wouldn't be where I am now without it."
Upon completing school in 2008, Nilsson spent a few years teaching and playing in Seattle before moving to Brooklyn, New York in September of 2010. Making a home for herself, she has been consistently performing, learning, and teaching since her arrival. She has studied with Chris Potter, Peter Bernstein, Kenny Werner, Jean-Michele Pilc, Robert Dick, Jamie Baum, Brad Shepik and many more in the process of obtaining her Masters degree from NYU's Jazz Program. Nilsson has performed with Kenny Werner's and Brad Shepik's NYU ensembles, The Jim Knapp Orchestra, Jovino Santos Neto, Ben Thomas, Chuck Deardorf, Dawn Clement, Michael Owcharuk, Darrius Willrich and more.
Molding the modern musical sophistication of New York with the soul of New Orleans is the mission of Jazz Artist Davy Mooney. ‘Perrier St’, his latest CD release, takes its title from the New Orleans street where a teenaged Mooney studied at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. It combines the faded memories of that time with the journey that followed, expressed in melodic, harmonically complex music with literate, wistful lyrics.
The journey—from New Orleans to Brooklyn, where Mooney now resides—was not without bumps in the road and detours foreseen and unforeseen. The largest of these was 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which sent Mooney fleeing mid-city New Orleans for Washington D.C., where he participated in the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition (held barely two weeks after the evacuation of New Orleans!) and placed third overall. It was there that he met the great guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli, with whom he recorded the 2009 duo 7-string guitar release ‘Last Train Home’, on Challenge Records. After the competition Mooney made the choice to relocate to New York and ever since he has bounced back and forth between the mean streets of Brooklyn and Queens and the swamps of New Orleans.
He studied at the Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, from 2007-2009, recorded a CD of his original compositions for the Japanese Label Spice Records entitled ‘Astoriano’ (a pun on the Queens neighborhood ‘Astoria’ and ‘N.O.’), and performed in Japan, Brazil, India, Panama, Poland, Mexico, Germany, and all over the continental US with a long list of jazz luminaries including Brian Blade, Jon Cowherd, Herbie Hancock, Chris Potter, John Ellis, Nicholas Payton, and many others.
More recently Mooney has made the foray into the literary world, and will self-publish his first novel ‘Hometown Heroes’, which explores the same New Orleans/New York themes of his music, in early 2013.
‘Perrier St’, the new CD, features Blade, Cowherd, Ellis and others and is available on Sunnyside Records.