Tolvan Big Band Biography
For over thirty years, Helge Albin has been working hard to turn the the small Swedish city of Malmo into an international destination for the best in forward-thinking jazz music. And he has a lot to show for it—The Tolvan Big Band, an award-winning 18-member ensemble dedicated to performing new music by Albin and others has toured in Europe, Australia and South America, and worked with jazz masters Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Liebman, and Michael Brecker, among many others.
Albin was received the 2011 GULDNÅLEN award, the 2010 JAZZKANNAN award, the 1995 Sydsvenska Dagbladets Europapris, and the 1984 Golden Disc award, in recognition of his work not only as a performer, but as leader and statesman in Sweden’s arts community.
The ensemble has released twelve recordings, four of them featuring Albin’s music. All About Jazz said the most recent album of Albin’s music, Effortlessly, released in 2013 by the Swedish label Kopasetic, tells a “nuanced story full of twists and suspense” through the intricate details of the compositions. “I’ve always wanted the big band to play with the flexibility of a quartet,” Albin says about how he leads the band, “So, I chose players who play creatively even as they are reading sophisticated parts.” And it has paid off. The Tolvan Big Band performs polished ensemble music with the personality of a small group—they are light on their feet even when the band’s 18 members are playing at full power.
Helge Albin has also built bridges to the classical music community. His four-movement suite “Thetris,” written in 2008 and featuring the Malmo Symphony Orchestra along with the Tolvan Big Band, is a collaboration on a grand scale. This concert-length suite asks the orchestra to provide a dynamic and challenging accompaniment to jazz improvisations—the orchestral musicians provide incisive counterpoint and constantly shifting colors that build on the foundation of Albin’s warm melodies and brilliant rhythms. This piece had its world premiere in Malmo on the summer of 2008, and was released by the Stockholm label Caprice Records.
This veteran saxophonist, composer and bandleader is not slowing down. Since retiring from his professorship at Malmo Academy of Music, Albin has renewed his commitment to his creative work and continues to initiate new projects. And as he does, his warmth of personality, his finely-honed skill, and his enthusiasm for his art form will be at the core of everything this creative musician undertakes.
“ ”The Best BIg Band I’ve played since 1947” ”
— Dizzy Gillespie
““ You can’t find such a band even in New York” ”
— Mike Brecker
“ Helge Albin turned this ambitious, up-to-date big band, located in Malmö in southern Sweden, into a musical institution with an international reputation. ”
“Tolvan Big Band has developed into one of the finest contemporary jazz orchestras in the world.”
“On Tarantula Suite, reed player Cennet Jönsson takes the leadership. Jönsson composed and arranged an impressive eight-movement suite that stresses this big band's masterful collective musicianship and warm sound. ”