The Artistry of… Bobo Stenson

There is a nuanced subtlety to the artistry of Swedish piano player Bobo Stenson — almost an elusive, stealth-like approach to jazz.

Music was an influence early on for Stenson. His parents were active musicians, his father playing piano and his mother a violinist. Early studies were in classical music, a strong European traditional music foundation that was impactful, with the influences of the studies continuing through his career. Stenson continues to be true to his classical roots and includes playing the music of Bach as a means of honing keyboard skills.

The subtleties and often complex counterpoint-oriented complexities of that music are characteristic of Stenson’s music making. In a quote from an interview with arts writer Rob Garratt, Stenson speaks to the dynamics of ensemble playing and how liberties in expression inform his artistry: “Sometimes we decide on how to start, say in a dark register or something, sometimes we decide almost nothing. It’s better that way, of course — you don’t want to do the same thing year and year again. So we say this time maybe the bass starts with the drums but we don’t have to say even that, because it becomes automatic. It’s exciting to play like this.”

Bobo Stenson’s piano artistry is a keyboard-scape of creative, charismatic and nuanced subtlety of expression.