Sven-Åke Johansson


In the final chapter of this year’s salute to the singular Berlin-based percussionist, composer and artist Sven-Åke Johansson, a key creative force in the city for five decades, Johansson plays with his new quintet presenting his “opus magnum for small ensembles”, a new book of compositions entitled “Stumps”.

Portrait of Sven-Åke Johansson Quintet

Sven-Åke Johansson Quintet

© Carina Khorkhordina

Past Dates

With a series of original features, the Digital Guide “Sven-Åke Johansson” presents some fascinating glimpses into the life and work of the composer and artist. To the Digital Guide

Sven-Åke Johansson: “Stumps”

(SE, FR, DE)

Percussionist, composer and visual artist Sven-Åke Johansson has been one of the most mercurial, unpredictable founding figures of the European improvised music scene going back to the late 1960s, when he moved from Sweden to Berlin. Ever since, he has been a voluble force in the city’s arts scene, nonchalantly bridging different disciplines with a keen eye for the absurd. Over decades of music-making and artistic development he’s never abandoned his love for swing rhythms, even if he’s often approached them sideways. While he’s led numerous projects such as Night and Day – among others with long-time collaborator and reedist Rüdiger Carl, with whom he plays in a trio featuring Joel Grip on Friday night at Jazzfest Berlin – this recent project applies that rhythm in the context of pithy original tunes, or “Stumps” as Johansson calls them. Each of the six pieces repeats very simple staccato themes and then offers a kind of loose, reverse-order inversion before calling on an excellent group of improvisers – pianist Simon Sieger, bassist Joel Grip, saxophonist Pierre Borel and trumpeter Axel Dörner – to find new paths using the most minimal of materials. Johansson’s ever-accelerating and decelerating pulse is a constant source of energy, but the remarkable band magically transforms each piece into something wildly different.


Axel Dörner trumpet
Pierre Borel saxophone
Simon Sieger piano
Joel Grip double bass
Sven-Åke Johansson drums