Jazz’halo July 2023

Carsten Lindholm : Conversation with the Danish drummer

The interview was conducted by Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther during Jazzahead 2023 in Bremen.

Why did you start to a career as drummer in the first place ?

Carsten Lindholm : it was quite a funny story, because we had a basement, where I was banging on cans and soap containers. Then my mother saw an ad in a local newspaper, that the local school orchestra was looking for drummers. You could come to an open audition. The class room was filled with drummers. They all had their pair of sticks with them and a kind of wooden board too. They chose 5. We studied with a conservatory teacher, and learned about the classical snare drum technique and drum set. Besides that we played with the school orchestra.

Have you tried out other instruments before ?

Carsten Lindholm : No. It was later that I began to play the piano a bit, mostly used as a composing tool.

How would you characterize the role of the drummer in a Jazz band ?

Carsten Lindholm : It is a combination. He/she is the time keeper, the mood setter with the role of keeping the band together. There are sometimes musicians who are ahead off the beat or behind, where it is up to the drummer to keep it together, and also to create a dynamic feel and mood.

Is timing the most important part of a drummer as the drummer Ginger Baker in interviews put forward ?

Carsten Lindholm : It is a kind of basic that you are the one responsible for the timing. But the other musicians need a certain understanding of timing too to connect in a band and playing together. I am also mostly interested in expression. Drummers like Paul Motian, Jack DeJohnette, Manu Katché, Jon Christensen, Peter Erskine, Brian Blade are/were all vibrant expressive dynamic musicians, who I always find very interesting to listen to. They all have/had different vibes, but all of them have/had a strong inspiring original way of expressing music.

When did you even start making your own music ? Can you recall it ?

Carsten Lindholm : I played a lot of gigs as a sideman many years after I moved to Copenhagen in 1991, mostly jazz gigs. I lost my father in 2006, and I needed some own way of expressing myself. I started composing electronical music using a computer. I was at a computer studio. They had the Swedish music program Reason. After that I got more and more interested in composition, and production.

Is it actually essential that a musical career is based on a music-loving family? Or is that not so important and entirely up to your own intrinsic motivation ?

Carsten Lindholm : It is different. You can get inspirations from teachers in school or radio and TV. I was fortunate cause my father played piano. My grandfather played the violin in a symphonic orchestra. There was a lot of music in the house. When I left the school orchestra, I studied with drummer Ulf Scott, who was from my hometown, and moved to Copenhagen later. At that time my hometown Kerteminde, was a small town with approx. 5000 inhabitants with not much going on. I studied with Ulf. He played in different bands, and studied with the drummer of Michel Camilo at that time Joel Rosenblatt in New York. Ulf changed my whole perspective of, what was possible and motivated me to move to Copenhagen.

Then I started to dive into the music of Michel Camilo, an amazing pianist, who had his own way of playing Latin jazz. Later I hooked up with Jazz drummers, and learned more about the history of Jazz. I did research at the local music library every day discovering many genres like Jazz, Classical, Funk, Indian Classical music a. o….

Why did you choose to study at the Jazz Academy and D.A.R.K. ? Did you pick these institutions in relation to the teacher there ?

Carsten Lindholm : I applied for the official conservatory but I was too immature in terms of playing piano. I did not find it that interesting at that point. I prepared with Åge Tanggaard for the session to join the conservatory. We talked about, if they should let me go to the 2nd round, but as I was not keen on playing the piano I decided not to go further.

Instead I started at D.A.R.K. a private conservatory, where I got the teacher Carsten Dahl, who started as a drummer but now is a Danish piano player. He taught me a lot about Jazz, Elvin Jones, the piano/drums connection, and later recommended me to study with the legend Ed Thigpen (Oscar Peterson, Elle Fitzgerald, Ben Webster), who lived in Copenhagen. I studied with him a couple of years. He taught me about the basics of jazz, timekeeping, coordination, being open minded towards all kinds of music, and so much more.

Can you remember when you first came into contact with Jazz ? Through radio programs, going to a concert or through a specific Jazz album ? And if the latter, which album was that ?

Carsten Lindholm : It was part of my study. I listened a lot to „Night Train“ by Oscar Peterson, where Ed Thigpen was the drummer, and absorbed his intense hard swinging music. Later on I got into Yellowjackets(The Spin, Greenhouse, Like a River) and Lars Danielsson (European Voices), Esbjörn Svensson… They had different kind of vibes. For my drum studies, I spent a lot of time with the Pat Metheny Trio album „Question and Answer“. It involved tradition, and was also very modern on the other hand. I memorised a lot of the solos from Metheny, and then it was just a matter of learning, learning and learning.

Have you ever been influenced by Max Roach, Art Blakey, Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich to mention only a few legendary drummers in the history of Jazz ?

Carsten Lindholm : Actually I started my CD research studies with Art Blakey and his hard driving strong drumming. Then I got into Elvin Jones. He had a kind of African way of playing Jazz. It is very circular as Adam Nussbaum, who is rooted in the same tradition. It is the strong intense swinging beat, which fascinates me.

How important is the American Songbook considering your career ?

Carsten Lindholm : In the past I played many gigs with the Real Book repertoire. I did a lot of gigs playing Jazz standards for many many years. But in 1996 I went to a summer camp with Lars Danielsson, who was my teacher then. I was then more affiliated to the Nordic traditional music, and a kind of Scandinavian Songbook.

Do you see an independent pathway of Jazz in Europe ?

Carsten Lindholm : Definitely. There is a tendency that the music derives from the roots of your heritage thinking of e.g. Esbjörn Svensson, Jan Garbarek. Danielsson, or outside Europe Ibrahim Malouf, who uses his Lebanese roots, Trilok Gurtu using his Indian roots, and Shai Maestro with his Israeli roots.

I recently went to see Lars Danielsson and his quartet at Jazz club Montmartre. Lars mixes his classical background, Swedish roots and odd meters, which I guess comes from his time with Trilok Gurtu. Every time it amazes me, how effortless, tasteful, melodic and strong expressive they play.

Finally, let us talk about your projects set up like the trios with Jan Gunnar Hoff and Reggie Washington and Jan Gunnar Hoff and Jasper Somsen. Why did you decide the trio is a formation you really want to play in ? Could you describe the character of Jazz you perform with these bands, please ?

Carsten Lindholm : I feel that the trio format gives you a better opportunity to leave space in the music, and the interaction/communication/improvisations has different options, than in bigger constellations.

The trio with Reggie Washington and Jan Gunnar Hoff is my trio, where I am the leader. We are playing my songs and arrangements of pop songs, which you might label as new standards. Like songs by Coldplay, Sting, Sam Smith and others. I met Reggie actually through his wife, who had a booth at the Jazzahead. We then hooked up and played in a studio at Copenhagen. It was great fun. We played quite some gigs in Germany.

I got to play with Jasper Somsen, when he was a substitute for Reggie during a gig in Bayreuth with Jan Gunnar on piano. Since we had a strong and special chemistry together the three of us, we decided to found a shared trio. It is very exciting. We expand the influences, the market, share music writing/arrangements of some songs, combined with impro songs, and our own songs. We have scheduled an album recording in September with release next year. I also have a lot of unreleased songs, which will be released, when the time is right.

I thank you for the interview…

Carsten Lindholm : Thanks a lot for inviting me!!

Text © Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther  –  photos © Carsten Lindholm


Read interview and more by Jazz’halo here: https://www.jazzhalo.be

JazzAhead 2023

Basically I’m thankful for every day, but today is a special one.
Attending JazzAhead again, and very excited to meet good jazzy people the next 4 days.

Also, hoping to land a gig or two for the new exciting project: Hoff, Somsen & Lindholm.

On top – an interview with, may I say – a well known Jazz magazine will be done. I look forward to presenting this to you in the future.

A huge thank you to JazzDanmark for their dedicated hard work for the Danish Jazz industry.

Hope to see you there!


Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung: Carsten Lindholm Trio bringt Rock und Pop in den Free Jazz


Carsten Lindholm Trio bringt Rock und Pop in den Free Jazz

Frei von musikalischen Grenzen: Das beweist die Combo und das die Spielart auch melodiös sein kann.


Das Carsten Lindholm Trio zeigt, dass im Jazz die Möglichkeiten nie enden. Foto: Tim Harris

Von Peter Wiest

Mannheim. Es ist Jazz vom Feinsten, den die Musiker im ausverkauften Mannheimer Club “Ella & Louis” auf die Bühne zaubern. Und irgendwie ist es auch Free Jazz. Das jedoch alles andere als im klassischen Sinn. Es sind andere Klangwelten, in die der dänische Schlagzeuger und Bandleader Carsten Lindholm, der norwegische Pianist Jan Gunnar Hoff und der amerikanische Bassist Reggie Washington das Publikum entführen. Und ja, ihre Musik ist frei im besten Sinn des Wortes: Sie schwebt ungebunden über allen musikalischen Grenzen, ist völlig losgelöst von Genre-Klischees und spricht das Publikum total an.

Das kann sich ebenfalls frei entfalten. Es kann mitswingen bei den leichteren Passagen; es kann sich zurücklehnen bei träumerischen Ausflügen – dann wieder kann es bei ausgeklügelten, perfekt improvisierten Soli, die an den Rand des Free Jazz geraten, die Instrumental-Technik bewundern. 

Was könnte passender sein bei einem Enjoy-Jazz-Konzert? Die drei auf der Bühne “enjoyen” ihre Musik im Sinne des Festivals. Das wird hörbar, spürbar und auch sichtbar. Zufriedene Lächeln huschen über die Gesichter, wenn sie eine Melodie auf ihre ganz eigene Art ab- und umgewandelt haben und das Publikum begeistert applaudiert. Sie strahlen förmlich, wenn sie einen bekannte Song aus der Welt des Pop und Rock hinübergeholt haben, wenn sie damit eingetaucht sind in ein anderes Genre und Stücke wie “Roxanne” oder “King of Pain” von The Police oder “Uninvited” von Alanis Morissette in völlig neuem Gewand präsentieren.

Das hätte bestimmt auch Sting und Morissette begeistert. Kaum weniger gut allerdings kommen die Eigenkompositionen Lindholms beim Publikum an, wie das wunderschöne “Spring Cruise” oder der facettenreiche “Indian Summer”, mit dem Lindholm sein Talent als Songschreiber offenbart. Dass er mit Fug und Recht Bandleader ist, aber den anderen Musikern gerne Raum gibt, beweist er dem Publikum gleich mit zwei “Überraschungen”. So gibt er dem Mannheimer Jazz-Schlagzeuger Julian Losigkeit, der ihm für das Konzert diverse Schlagzeug-Accessoires ausgeliehen hat, die Gelegenheit, dessen wunderschöne Eigenkomposition “Heading Home” dem Publikum persönlich vorzuspielen. Das kommt ebenso gut an wie ein langes Piano-Solo von Jan Gunnar Hoff mit einer ausgefeilten und zunächst sachte dahinschwebenden Komposition, die am Ende immer durchdringender wird und mit den meisten Applaus des Abends findet.

Stehender Beifall gebührt am Ende dem kompletten Trio für einen außergewöhnlichen Auftritt, der gezeigt hat, dass im Jazz die Möglichkeiten nie enden. Dass diese immer wieder auch zu genussvollen Ergebnissen führen, wenn sie auf so originelle Art und von solchen Allround-Künstlern dargeboten werden, haben Carsten Lindholm und seine Mitmusiker bewiesen.

Read more from RNZ here!

More Reviews & articles about Carsten Lindholm and projects here!

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  2. Roxanne (The Police cover) Carsten Lindholm Trio Buy 6:43
  3. Luca Carsten Lindholm Buy 6:23
  4. Alle har en drøm Carsten Lindholm Trio Buy 6:41
  5. Uninvited (Alanis Morissette cover) Carsten Lindholm Trio Buy 5:37
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