Clubbing: Talking all that jazz with Alexander Brott

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Alexander Brott is a 25-years old jazz musician with guitar as his main instrument. Jazz has been his passion since his early teens, with favourites such as swing and bebop from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Some of his biggest influences are Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Elmo Hope. He finished his masters at the Royal College of Music last year and since then he has been freelancing as a musician. He recently returned from three months in New York and since then he has been on a mission to introduce more jazz into the Stockholm nightlife. His current projects are at the hotels Reisen and Miss Clara.

You had a life changing experience in New York. Tell us more!

I spent my days basically waking up, practicing until it got dark and then heading out to jam sessions and concerts, returning early next morning. After a while I started getting gigs and got invited home to a lot of different great musicians to hang out and play. I also took a number of lessons with some of my idols. It may sound like a cliché but I really felt like I learned how to play this music for real after that trip. It’s like learning a new language: you can study the textbooks all you want but you won’t sound fluent, like a native speaker, until you’ve heard and lived the language first hand.

What’s the story behind Jazz på Reisen?

When I got back from New York I felt a bit underwhelmed. From having been to three to four concerts per night all of a sudden I was going to three to four concerts per month. I really missed the way the music was played there but also where the music is played, it’s much more common that you can catch great jazz in really laidback places like bars and restaurants. I guess the tradition of jazz as social music is prevalent there in a different way. So I wanted to have a regular gig with my own trio playing the music I like in a relaxed setting where the music could function both as a main feature and as something that just creates ambience and good atmosphere.

Why did you choose Reisen as the location?

Reisen is a nice balance of several things: It’s very central but at the same time a bit off the beaten path. It’s a very stylish restaurant that still has a really cozy feel to it. They have excellent food as well as an awesome bar, and on top of that it offers a beautiful view looking out over the Stockholm water. It’s also cool because Reisen has a tradition of presenting live music, back in the day they used to have piano players and famous singers sit and spread good vibes to the guests. So far it’s been really great! People of all ages come to eat and drink and hear some nice music and some of the city’s best jazz musicians will drop by and sit in with the band.

Why do you love jazz so much?

To me jazz has everything. It’s such a multifaceted style of music. It is an African American tradition that fuses everything that’s good. There is room for the whole spectrum of emotions, it can be romantic, it can be wild, it can be soft, it can be swinging. It is a style of music that is built upon collectivism but at the same time offers great opportunity for personal expression. And it’s so deep! There’s always something new to learn, you can work on the craft of improvising and playing jazz for a lifetime and still discover new things.

What’s your thoughts on clubbing in Stockholm?

Well, to be honest, I don’t do much clubbing anymore. I guess I’m too picky about what music is played. But having said that I have had some great club nights in Stockholm at places like Färgfabriken and Under Bron as well as some more underground events.

Since I’m a jazz fan I tend to mostly go to various jazz clubs. Glenn Miller Café is a nice, cozy place that offers jazz almost every night. Now and then I might catch some international artists at Fasching or Scandics Lilla Hotellbaren. There’s also this new place at Scala Teatern every other Friday called Lönnkrogen which is a club with a speak easy vibe, old school jazz and drinks, I highly recommend it!

Any other favourite night spot?

I recently started to learn how to dance Lindy Hop, so I’ve been hanging out at this place called Chicago. It’s a great jazz dance studio with a really positive vibe where you can learn how to dance and also dance socially at night.

Any fave restaurant?

There has been such a boom in new restaurants in Stockholm recently, I like to try anything which has a good buzz about it. But a few that I keep coming back to are Lao Wai (great Chinese), Blue Light Yokohama (great sushi) and Nostrano (great Italian).

Bars?

I like this small place called Erlands, it’s super retro and furnished so it looks like it’s straight out of the 50s. I’ll play there now and then and have a drink and hang out until late. Closer to where I live on Södermalm I like Loch Ness, Morfar Ginko, Babylon and a few other secret places which I hope remain obscure…

What’s up next?

I just started hosting a Jazz Brunch at the gorgeous Hotel Miss Clara (Sveavägen 48). I really look forward to this collaboration, it’s a beautiful setting and I will be joined by some amazing musicians. It’s going to be a very elegant and tasteful event. Otherwise just doing gigs, writing music, and practicing and improving my craft. I’m going back to New York this autumn for another long trip and I hope to move there at some point. It’s probably going to happen in the not too distant future, but chances are I’ll come back to Stockholm again at some point. I think I love this city too much to say goodbye forever.

words Ida Therén