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The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine
that also gives jazz musicians an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.


Ida Karlsson (Saxophone) - November 2018


Ida Karlsson


Saxophonist Ida Karlsson lives in Malmö, Sweden. She recently came to the UK as part of a tour by the Kathrine Windfeld Big Band where many people were able to catch some of Scandanavia’s impressive jazz talent.

Ida grew up in Haraker outside Västerås. Her mother’s band occasionally rehearsed at home in the garage, where as a child, Ida liked to listen and play along (on maracas…). She started playing the saxophone when she was eleven - her fascination with the instrument probably began in earnest after hearing a concert by The Rollin' Phones.


The Swedish saxophone quartet the Rollin' Phones playing Gershwin's I Loves You Porgy / I Got Plenty Of Nuttin'
from Porgy And Bess.





Ida began taking piano lessons, primarily to better understand music theory and harmonies and during her teens, she played in the brass band Flickgardet and later with the big band Hildings Damer. After high school, and following a few years of study at music colleges, Ida felt a longing to learn something other than music. She also wanted to carve out a clearer place for herself in society, separate from that of a jazz saxophonist. She therefore studied physical therapy for three years at Lund University, but her involvement in music continued at the same time and  she began to play with Emeli Ek in the duo ‘Medi’ and led the quartet ”Digiti Minimi Band”.


Scandanavia map


After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Ida found that she missed playing music so much that she enrolled at Malmö Academy of Music, ‘an open-minded place where she immediately felt at home’. It was there that she started her band, the “Ida Karlsson Quartet”, subsequently releasing two albums with her own compositions.



Listen to the Quartet playing the lovely Holmbo Sommarhage from the album Circles.





Ida now leads the jazz quartet ”IDKA JAZZ” with Martin Juteus on piano, Pontus Häggblom on drums and, until recently, Zacharias Holmkvist on double bass. She also plays (amongst others) with Medi duo; Gursus; Who’s Your Mama; OSSSO and the Kathrine Windfeld Big Band.



Medi for children






Ida writes songs and creates arrangements, primarily within the jazz genre. However, she is able to switch effortlessly between music styles.

Since 2013, the duo Medi has performed for children based on compositions authored by Emeli and Ida where the music mixes movement, play and rhythm. Every performance’s goal is to inspire children to play and simultaneously break the norms around what music can or should be. As these performances have grown, Ida has widened her arsenal of instruments, as well as creating her own scenery and costumes.

Is anyone in need of an accordion? A dancing squirrel? And a tail? Ida can naturally deliver any and all of this!






I managed to catch up with Ida for a Tea Break:


Hej, Ida, tea or coffee?

Hej! Coffee please.

Milk and sugar?

A tiiiiny drop of milk.



Bullret Jazz Club



What is the jazz scene like in Sweden – are there many jazz clubs in the cities and do you have a favourite?

The Swedish jazz scene is, as I guess the jazz scene is in many places, divided in sub-genres. There are jazz clubs in most Swedish cities thanks to dedicated volunteers. Some of them only offer old swing, some focus on modern jazz.

In my hometown Malmö, there is 'Bullret' and "Jazz i Malmö”. Both of them have a very open mind when booking bands, which I think is great. The jazz scene needs that if the genre shall have a chance to survive.


Bullret Jazz Club during a pre-performancesoundcheck





Do you play mainly in Sweden or in Scandinavia generally?

My band IDKA JAZZ has only played in Sweden so far, but will play in Germany soon. Since I play in several other bands I have played a lot in Denmark too.


Do you think Scandinavian clubs would welcome bands from the UK?




Your band IDKA JAZZ seems to be quite busy with gigs and you have a new album out – who are the members of the band and have you been together for a long time?

Our pianist is Martin Juteus who is also an artist/painter! And writes music for other bands. Pontus Häggblom is our drummer originally from Finland, and Aaron Mandelmann, bass, is a new member of the band, since a couple of months ago (after Zackarias moved back home to Finland). We have played together since May 2017!  





That's quite a recent line-up then, but of course there is your earlier work with the Ida Karlsson Quartet - I really like your Quartet's recording of Holmbo Sommarhage from the 2013 Circles album - What does Holmbo Sommarhage mean?

It means "Summer fields of Holmbo". Holmbo is where my brother lives, not far from where we grew up. The title is a blink to the piano piece Intåg i sommarhagen by Wilhelm Petterson Berger. 




The Onions Core



Your latest album with IDKA JAZZ album ‘The Onion’s Core’ was released in April this year - I find it captivating and really engaging with some great saxophone playing from yourself. Where did the title of the album come from and is there a story behind the compositions?

Thank You! I’m glad you enjoyed it. The album is named after one of my songs. I have tried different ways of composing and have often been over-thinking (I guess). I thought a lot about chords, and scales and how to make things sound ‘jazzy’, but this song more or less came to me while practising. It sounds a bit like music I heard as a child, which made me think over other compositions I wrote to this album – and a lot of them remind me of music I listened to, and played as a child. I mean, even though I’ve studied music (jazz) a lot my inner sound is very influenced by my childhood.




Listen to The Onion's Core.





That link to the music of your childhood is interesting, particularly in relation to the work you and Emeli as Medi do with children. People can also see the band playing one of the tunes from the album, ‘Humble’, on YouTube – I love this tune – why was it called ‘Humble’?

There are so many things that remind me of being humble… When this song was new, I wasn’t happy with it. But when I tried it with the band it grew and it is a blast to play it with these people. Together we open new doors.



IDKA JAZZ playing Humble live at INKONST Malmö.









What do you usually have in Sweden with your tea break? I have some biscuits here if you fancy one – bourbons, chocolate digestives, Hob Nobs ....?

We don’t have tea break. We have “fika”. Fika is usually only coffee and in southern Sweden where I live, the coffee is very strong. (Up north it’s milder but still much stronger than in the UK). Everybody likes cinnamon buns I think, or "kladdkaka".








If you could invite a past musician to play with the band – who would you invite, and what would you ask them during your tea break?

O wow! Tough question! There are so many! Nina Simone maybe, but I don’t know if I would dare… or Alice Coltrane or Monica Zetterlund.



Swedish vocalist Monica Zetterland reflecting back on singing Some Other Time with the Bill Evans Trio in 1965.








Kari Sjostrand




Who else have you heard recently in Sweden that we should listen out for?

I’ve heard Kari Sjöstrand and her band ”Talk” with Gunnar Åkerhielm, Ulf Åkerhielm and Sebastian Voegler, great band! Her sound reminds me of Dexter Gordon!






Kari's studio recording of A Litle Boat for her album Frost Blossom, part of her 'New Orleans' project.






Ida Karlsson with Kathrine Winfeld Big Band



What do you have planned for the coming months?

The next four months I will play some gigs with the Kathrine Windfeld Big Band in Sweden! I am playing a couple of tours with Medi and our children’s shows. I am also arranging music for a new, yet secret, jazz project!

IDKA JAZZ has a couple of gigs and tonight actually Martin and I are playing as a duo.

Apart from playing I will (hopefully) write a bachelor essay on Music Pedagogy.


Ida with the Kathrine Winfeld Big Band





Ida playing WASP with the Kathrine Winfeld Big Band at the 2017 Copenhagen Jazz Festival.





That is quite a busy schedule - I hope somewhere in the future you will come back to the UK again. In the meantime, would you like another slice of kladdkaka?

No thank you, it tastes so good that one piece is enough Winking emoji



Tack för att du pratar med mig, Ida

Tack själv, det var trevligt!


Click here for Ida Karlsson's website. Click here for details of the album The Onion's Core.


Ida Karlsson


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