Christer Bothén 3

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Christer Bothén – bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet
Torbjörn Zetterberg – double bass 
Konrad Agnas – drums 

photo by Sara Lundén

Christer Bothén, born 1941, is a key figure in the Scandinavian creative scene, traversing free jazz, folk, and experimental music. His main instruments are bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, Donso n’Goni and Guimbri.

In 2021 he released a trio LP Omen (Bocian records) with his own compositions.

About this trio (originally with Vilhem Bromander on bass) with musicians who are almost fifty years his junior he says: 

“The trio started as an improv unit in an exhibition with my paintings in 2019. It turned out so well that I later asked these two young musicians to join me in a trio. I wanted to try out new ideas for playing my compositions, a bit inspired by my time with Don Cherry and his way of playing in suite form, where compositions emerge and fade away in different versions. A kind of improvised suite. Also working with the jazz language as a found object, equal to other ways of improvising. Working this way with these musicians the trio becomes a whirlpool of sounds and challenging musical situations, instead of a predefined style.”

“The sum of all the years of experience, travelling and sharing coming together in an amazing explosion of poetic beauty (…) To hear this music in a trio setting is a revelation to me. It is so clear. So sharp. Full of details and a gushing flow of energy. Full of life.” (From Omen’s liner notes by Mats Gustafsson)

“Bothén wrote the five tracks and his playing has a range and depth that makes the unusual format seem quite varied, whether he is soaring alto-like over perky rhythms, adding malevolent undercurrents to arco basslines or caterwauling through mechanized hardbop.” (Andrey Henkin, NYC jazz record)

“A masterpiece!” (Jan Granlie, Salt Peanuts)

A concert of the trio will be opened by a set of Bothén and Zetterberg both on Donso n’Goni, the string instrument Bothén taught Don Cherry to play. A magical sound.

photo by Ziga Koritnik
photo by Ziga Koritnik

Christer Bothén began playing the clarinet at the age of twelve, and studied art as well as music. He lived in Mali, where he studied the music of the hunters and the harp lute Donso n’Gonim, and in Morocco, studying gnawa music.

From the early 1970s onwards, Bothén collaborated with trumpeter Don Cherry and he became his teacher in Donso n’Goni. 

Bothén led several Swedish ensembles, playing his own compositions. In recent years he worked with Mats Gustafsson’s Fire! Orchestra, ao. 

A 3cd box “Ambrosia” with solo compositions was released in 2020. In that same year he received the Swedish Royal Academy of Music’s major jazz award.