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Paal Nilssen-Love

Paal Nilssen-Love

A jazz dive in a small harbor town on the Southwest coast of Norway might seem the least likely venue for the polyrhythmic percussion tendencies of Art Blakey, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Tony Oxley, et al. to be handed on to the next generation. But that’s exactly what happened when Paal Nilssen-Love, who’ll turn 30 on Christmas Eve, was still in single figures. His father, Terry Love, was an English drummer who had relocated to Stavanger, Norway, to be with his wife. The couple ran a jazz club there from 1979-86, and the young Paal (pronounced Paul) couldn’t help but be dazzled by the artistry passing through. “My parents let my brother and I hang out there,” he recalls, “meeting all the musicians and seeing many of the shows. I guess he was keen on seeing me pick up the drums, but it was never forced. I was actually planning to play trumpet, but when the conductor of the school band asked me what I would like to play, I replied, ‘drums.’ I’m not sure why.”

Nilssen-Love played in a rock band during his teens, but says, “I have always enjoyed the freedom there is in jazz, the swing, the feel, the soul of it and the history you can hear through loads of records. Jazz is the music I feel I can project all ideas and whatever feelings want to come out at the time.”

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