Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love stormed the Norwegian jazz scene in the early '90s and has been working relentlessly ever since in both traditional and avant-garde jazz. It wasn't long before he jumped on the metaphorical freight train Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustaffson had established between Scandinavia and Chicago; the drummer appeared on Ken Vandermark's School Days and has enjoyed growing exposure in the U.S. since 2000. His other engagements and collaborations include trios with Frode Gjerstad, Sten Sandell, and Raoul Björkenheim, plus the group Atomic. He released his first solo CD, Sticks & Stones, in 2001.
Nilssen-Love literally grew up in jazz. He was only five-years old back in 1979 when his parents opened the Stavanger Jazzclub, a venue they operated until 1986. A career in music came as a natural (and encouraged) choice. The young drummer began to work with saxophonist Frode Gjerstad and trumpeter Didrik Ingvaldsen in 1990, three years before he began formal jazz studies at Sund College and the Trondheim Music Conservatory. His first available recording is Enten Eller, a CD by Gjerstad's Circulasione Totale Orchestra, released in 1992.
In Trondheim, Nilssen-Love met bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and pianist Håvard Wiik. He joined their group Element in 1993. This free jazz ensemble inspired by the late music of John Coltrane attracted much praise and recognition from the local press. Element released its first album in 1996, by which time the drummer had already performed on the first two of a string of recordings by Ingvaldsen's group, Pocket Corner. Sten Sandell, Per "Texas" Johansson, and Mats Gustaffson soon made him a place in their projects.
Nilssen-Love developed a strong musical relationship with Håker Flaten; they appear together in many projects. Gustaffson, with whom they recorded The Thing (2000, Crazy Wisdom), introduced them to Ken Vandermark and the Chicago scene. The pair forms the rhythm section of Vandermark's School Days and Björkenheim's Scorch Trio. Along with Wiik and musicians from Stockholm, they formed the avant-garde jazz quintet Atomic in 1999. ~ François Couture~ Rovi