• Looking back. 2016 has been a good year

    I’m happy to look back on 2016 and say that it’s been a good year musically (also personally, but that’s mainly a different story).

    It started off a bit quiet but in the middle of March Naoko Sakata Trio released the album Dreaming tree (Footprint Records), and had a nice evening at Nefertiti in Gothenburg, playing and selling CDs.
    Later that spring I also released my own music with the band Stormfågel. This album, with the same name as the group, was something I’d longed to do for a long time, writing both music and lyrics. For the release in Gothenburg I had my good friend Martin Ofersson, who also made the fantastic album cover, exhibiting his drawings – which created I nice setting for the evening. Our second release concert were in Malmö at Moriska Paviljongen, arranged by our fine record company! I really loved the vibe that evening, a lot of people came out and really supported us, made us feel warmly welcomed!

    To me and my fellow musicians delight, both Dreaming tree and Stormfågel got great response from listeners and critics. I especially recall Jan-Erik Holmberg at HBL in Helsinki’s fine words about Dreaming tree;“Defines (…) the pianotrio of the 2010’s right on spot” and Alexander Agrell at SYDSVENSKA DAGBLADET’s words on Stormfågel; “…you’ll seldom hear such ambitious and well composed jazz, that at the same time has so much feeling of freedom in it.”

    This was also the year of fabulous festivals.
    Athens Technopolis Jazz Festival with Naoko Sakata Trio. A warm night in May 4 500 people came to hear us play under a clear sky in the middle of Athens. Great feeling.
    EFG London Jazz Festival with Farvel, sharing stage with Beady Belle and Bugge Wesseltoft. Bugge’s record company Jazzland Recordings got two nights at the Kings Place in London to celebrate their 20’th anniversary. We were so happy to be a part of this. Also, this night the strangest thing happened. I borrowed a bass from my colleague in the other band. In the middle of our set the E string went off. I had experienced this on my own bass of course and had learned my lesson to bring extra strings. But this time I wasn’t ready and after some minutes in panic trying to fix this I had to realise there was nothing to do but to play half of the set without an E-string. Well, lesson learned once again, at least it made a good story…

    Other festivals this year was Tampere Jazz Happening (Finland), Stockholm Jazz Festival (Sweden), Limmitationes Festival (Austria), Trollhättan Jazz & Blues Festival (Sweden), InJazz (Holland), GMLSTN Jazz Festival (Sweden), Preveza Jazz Festival (Greece). Great arrangements all of them with a lot of really ambitious and self sacrificing people doing a fantastic work to make it happen.

    Farvel recorded it’s 3rd album (will be released in fall 2017) and also went out on an autumn tour. The highlights were the whole day workshop at Lunnevads Folkhögskola (really inspiring) and the church concert in Darmstadt, Germany.

    Also Dark Horse had a good year, as always doing a lot of concerts. This year we managed to do our second European tour and also our Japan debut with seven gigs at adorable venues. Unfortunately I had to leave after five gigs, but I was happy to get come home because Naoko Sakata Trio was receiving the culture grant from Sten A Olssons Stiftelse. We shared this with the pop artist Laleh and a few other fine artists.

    Also in October both Naoko Sakata Trio and Farvel was nominated for Swedish Radio’s prize “Jazzkatten – Group of the year”. No jackpot this time though.

    To sum it up I first have to say that it’s a real struggle to be a full time musician. All those hours of unpaid work and often a slice of agony to it… Still I’m really happy to be able to do this, that I live in a community where this work still gets support from the state. It’s a really good thing. Something to be proud of as a Swede, and we also have to see the good effects this attitude to free culture has on our society.
    The good force of music is still strong and I hope that the free music that I represent will remain independent from outside influence and keep on opening new doors.