of the most renowned guitarists in Sweden today, Niclas Höglind
(pronounced Heg-Lind) has worked with some of the greatest musicians
in Sweden including guitarist Peder Nabo, co-founder of the 1970's
prog-rock group Ragnarök. As a recording artist in his own right,
Niclas has also released a number of albums with the group
known as UNIT and he's back in late 2012 with a new UNIT collaboration
entitled Unit And Luiz Murá. A gifted
singer-songwriter and guitarist from Brazil, Luiz Murá
lends a tropical Brazilian flair to Unit's expansive approach to guitar-based
European fusion instrumental music. Höglind's guitar-centric
sound is superbly in focus, and paired with the Brazilian language
vocals of Murá, the UNIT sound arrives at a whole new level
and the results are engaging and progressive at the same time. At
times, this Unit and Luiz Murá CD sounds like Antonio
Carlos Jobim jamming with Pat Metheny or even jazz guitar great Charlie
Byrdthat's just how masterful Höglind is as a guitar player.
Backing up Höglind and Murá are some talented musicians,
including percussionist Sebastian Notini, acoustic guitarist
Marcus Wiberg, drummer Kristofer Johansson and others.
With this collaboration, Höglinds colorful approach to
World Music and jazz-fusion could be described as both terrestrial
and progressive at the same time. Guitar fans looking to hear a fascinating
amalgam of jazzy, guitar based fusion and World Music with a definite
Brazilian edge are strongly recommended to check out the sonic scenics
in full bloom on Unit And Luiz Murá. On download and
in print as a physical CD release, the Unit And Luiz Murá
CD features a very cool packaging with some seen to be believed
cover art and packaging and full lyrics sheet. www.PamaRecords.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Niclas Höglind of UNIT
mwe3: How did the new UNIT CD take shape and what was it like
working with Brazilian singer-songwriter Luiz Murá? Seems like
the new Unit CD with Luiz is an interesting cross between jazz fusion
and Brazilian music. What did you set out to achieve with this new
Höglind: Kristofer and I met Luiz thru our mutual friend,
guitarist Marcus Wiberg who just moved to Brazil. Marcus brought Luiz
to Sweden and we made a few concerts together. We felt right away
that our sound and playing worked really well with Luiz music and
we decided to make an album together. We also contacted the Swedish
percussionist Sebastian Notini who has spent the last 10 years in
Brazil and really knows both worlds well.
Usually Luiz had a tune or an idea that we all started to work on
and add our different flavors to. The thing that made the process
so much fun and creative was that we constantly tried new ideas, sounds
and grooves until we formed something that felt like this cool Brazilian/Scandinavian
music. Warm but still a bit melancholic. I think that Luizs
voice and music works really well with that special mix, and that
we all get the freedom to do our thing. For example the sounds and
electronics that I love to use are still there but a lot more subtle
than on our previous album Unit Jazz & World.
mwe3: Whats your experience with Brazilian music and how
does that sound fit in with the more Swedish based jazz fusion youre
more familiar with? What other types of World Music are you interested
in from Sweden and elsewhere?
Niclas Höglind: I have always loved listening to Brazilian
music and musicians inspired by Brazilian music. Unit also toured
and recorded with Maucha Adnet who was one of the singers in Antonio
Carlos Jobims group for over 10 years. This was a really great
experience and so much fun.
I think that a lot of the music on the ECM-label really reflects the
fusion between jazz and Scandinavian folk music...if you listen to
some of the recordings with, for example Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek,
Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen or John Abercrombie. The even
8th note feel in a lot of that music is quite close to some of the
Brazilian music and still jazz with a nice vibe of Scandinavian folk
music. Pat Metheny is another great musician and inspiration for me.
it comes to World music there is so much fantastic music made every
day, but take for example Nils Petter Molvaer who mixes the electric
and acoustic sound in a brilliant way. Or someone like Jon Hassell
who has done this for decades.
mwe3: What was the chemistry like between you and all the UNIT
players from Sweden and what was the challenge recording music with
a Brazilian singer and Brazilian lyrics? Who are some of your favorite
Brazilian musicians and/or other favorite Brazilian music?
Niclas Höglind: Recording together was really fun but challenging
because we had less than a week to record and mix the whole album.
This meant that we had to make quite quick decisions in the studio,
but it worked out really well. We usually only had to do one or two
takes before we where satisfied.
Unfortunately I dont know any Portuguese but Luiz usually explained
the lyrics for the songs so we could get the feel for what they were
Some favorite Brazilian musicians are of course A.C. Jobim and Elis
Regina and I also love Joao Bosco.
What guitars are you featuring on the new UNIT CD and what other
guitars and guitarists from Sweden and elsewhere interest you most
Niclas Höglind: Since I started to play 8-string guitar a
few years back, this has become a part of my sound and I own three
outstanding 8-strings made by Wes Lambe. www.wlguitars.com
. I also frequently use my Klein electric, a really great sounding,
comfortable and unique guitar. My Gibson ES-175 from 1960 was also
used for the album. A wonderful guitar to play. I have some other
guitars as well and among them a fantastic Gibson ES-335 from 1962
which sounds and feels amazing.
Sweden is a country with many really good guitar players and musicians.
It is a great inspiration whenever you get the chance to listen to,
or work with the best of them. When it comes to guitar players that
inspires me the list is long, but just to mention a few I love Ralph
Towner, Allan Holdsworth, Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, John Scofield,
Wes Montgomery, Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell, Larry Carlton, The Edge and
David Gilmour. I also have to mention Oz Noy, Tim Miller, Eivind Aarset,
Ben Monder and Charlie Hunter who all are very unique and sound really
great. There are many more of course.
mwe3: Whats been the reaction in Sweden and Scandinavia
to the UNIT CDs and whats some of the other latest news, musically
and otherwise in Sweden? Hows the country doing these days?
Have you seen Peder Nabo and Peter Bryngelsson of Ragnarök around
Niclas Höglind: We have had the chance to play some concerts
and at a jazz festival and got really good response from the audience.
The CD also got a really nice review in Lira, Scandinavias biggest
magazine for World music.
Sweden is a great place, even if being a musician is really hard work
anywhere, but as I mentioned earlier there are so many great players
everywhere. Although I have to say that Im glad that finding
new music on the internet is so easy today. It feels good to be able
to share and find music and musicians that are into the same thing
as you, even if they dont live anywhere near your part of the
I met Peder Nabo of Ragnarök last summer and I hope we get the
chance to work together again soon. It was great fun to do Nattens
mwe3: What are your other plans musically moving forward and do
you have some new and forthcoming projects coming in 2013? Any other
music and/or other news youd like to bring to the readers
Niclas Höglind: 2013 will involve some touring with different
projects, among them Unit & Luiz Murá.
I will also be working on a new project together with bass player
Mattias Welin and singer Cecilia Alriksson in our trio Fröjdeljud.
We will arrange the music by Arvo Pärt for electric guitar, electronics,
bass and voice. The music will be performed while 15 paintings by
Marc Chagall will be shown. This is a real challenge and will be so
much fun. I love Arvo Pärts music.
Jazz & World is a summer camp that Unit has been in charge of
for 12 years now. It specializes in jazz, world music and live looping
and is a really great week with musicians from all over the world.
Always a great inspiration to be involved in.
I also hope to get some time to work on my solo guitar live looping
project which is something I also really enjoy doing.
Thanks to Niclas Höglind @ www.blekingejazzandworld.se