His father was a jazz musician, making Bugge Wesseltoft’s path to music something of a foregone conclusion. First, though, as a teenager in Norway, he focused on punk. By that time, he had long since taught himself how to play the piano. Before long, though, he began wanting to emulate his father, and he turned to jazz. Wesseltoft wanted to study the genre at university, but his large number of gigs got in the way -- so he discovered his father’s music on his own. And reinvented it. Wesseltoft, now 51, founded his own label, Jazzland, and is regarded as a pioneer of Nu Jazz. “There is a greater exchange between the electronic music and jazz scenes today, which I personally find a lot more interesting," Wesseltoft has said.
Mr. Wesseltoft, are you a jazz revolutionary? No, I don’t really see myself like that. When I started mixing jazz and electronic music, it may have sounded quite fresh for many people. I mean, I wasn’t the only one doing it, but there weren’t many of us either. There were a few people in Norway and a few people in France. We were simply early adopters. Now, of course, there are many musicians who are mixing the two kinds of music.
What sets you apart from everyone else? I think I’m able to mix live music elements fairly well. There are fantastic programmers and fantastic producers. But fusing electronic music with live improvised music takes a while. I searched for the optimal mixing method for 10 years.
And you found it. Were you bored with traditional jazz of the kind your father and all the legends played?I like the old jazz. Thanks to my father, I grew up with it. And I still love listening to the music of the old legends. But when you're younger, you should also do something youthful, something new, and not just copy traditional music. You should find something that inspires you and find your own style.
In the late 90s, Wesseltoft traveled around the world with his music. He met other musicians, broadened his artistic horizons in Asia and Europe and absorbed these multicultural influences. He immortalized them on his album, “OK World,” which he describes as an attempt to bring together different cultures and their tastes in one project. It was a project that didn't have much to do with jazz, yet it was still of great importance for Wesseltoft's career.