Björn Wennås Biography

Boston based composer and guitarist Björn Wennås is an active musician in Boston and its surroundings. He is currently the Music Director for Newpoli, a Boston based Italian world/folk ensemble. He also co-leads BC Quintet together with Carmen Marsico featuring his and hers original compositions drawing inspiration from both rock and jazz tradition, contemporary music as well as from both their heritage.

Björn made his debut on stage at the age of 12 with the Flamenco group Los Dos Jovenes led by acclaimed guitarist and educator Miroslav Simic. Björn eventually developed an interest in jazz and went on to play guitar in several big bands and smaller ensembles, performing in some of the most distinguished jazz clubs in Sweden such as Fashing in Stockholm and Katalin in Uppsala.

Björn holds a BA from Uppsala University in Musicology and Anthropology, a Diploma in Music from Berklee College of Music and a MM from Longy School of Music. In 1999 he moved to Boston and has since studied jazz with Mick Goodrick, Hal Crook, Jon Damian, Charlie Banacos, Joe Morris, Ed Tomassi, Greg Hopkins and Tim Miller. Björn is also a proficient classical guitarist and has studied with David Patterson, David Leisner and performed in master classes with Emanuel Segre, Aldo Minella and members from the Pacifica Quintet.

He was nominated in 2004 for the Just Plain Folk’s Award for best jazz vocal composition (Love Song) along with the likes of Judi Silvano. In 2016 he was a finalist together with Carmen Marsico in the USA Songwriting competition for their song Sciure d'arance. His quintet was also selected to perform at the first annual New Music Festival in Boston, celebrating composers that are pushing the edge. He was a finalist in the International Massimo Urbani Award 2005, a jazz soloist competition that takes place in Camerino, Italy. The last couple of years he has been touring the US and Europe with BC Quintet and Newpoli.

What people say-

“...his dark-toned, electric lines surge forward with capacious voicings and probing chord progressions. ...Wennas conveys a mature vision during the preponderance of these craftily arranged works, awash with subtle surprises and the soloists hearty sojourns."
- GLENN ASTARITA, JAZZREVIEW

"..what makes Static a success is Wennas' own way of subsuming his influences into an approach all his own... his work on Static, is defined by economy, a refreshing avoidance of pyrotechnics, and a clear eye on the meaning of every note and phrase."
- JOHN KELMAN, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

"(Static)...starts out as gritty, chugging Jazz-rock with Wennas, trumpeter Phil Grenadier, and vocalist Carmen Marsico carving out a rough beat on “Song 2" and mixing grit and noise with lyricism later on “Static" and “P.I.N.Y." Wennas also has a tender side which he shows on a pretty trio version of “Nardis," bass and drums rolling while he glides and slips over the top like liquid mercury. “Ruby My Dear," meanwhile, is a delicate duet for Wennas' careful picking and Marsico's strong but delicate voice. The guitarist saves his wildest moves for “Lonnie's Lament" done as another trio version, this time with Bruno Raberg and Ziv Ravitz laying down a heavy beat while Wennas pours on the electronic whines and shimmies, sliding around his strings until he eventually ends up doing a rocking reggae sound. Wennas is an inventive and versatile modern player."
- JEROME WILSON, CADENCE MAGAZINE

". On this second album I find, despite its title 'Static', the involvement, breathing, an engagement and variation and also an openness. The title track 'Static' is a remarkable composition with an incredibly exciting guitar harmony that follows its own path throughout the tune, sort of apart from the rest. It awakes your curiosity through its self-proclaimed solitaire state and its odd being. More of that freedom and brazen attitude is something that I would like to hear."
- OVE WALL, OM JAZZ

"(He has) One foot in the tradition, and the other one in the future. (The music) .. is flying high and free and covers great spaces. I have a feeling that a third album or a fourth album with Bjorn Wennas might turn out to be something really special."
- JOHAN SCHERWIN, LIRA, MUSIKMAGASIN

“This is a thoroughly unpredictable set of post-bop jazz that at times almost becomes avant-garde. Also notable are three standards that have some of their melody notes altered. Certainly these versions of "Nardis" … and "Ruby My Dear" … are unique, while Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" is not all that recognizable. While the guitar/bass/drums numbers are worthy, it is the five selections that include Marsico and/or Grenadier (they are on four songs apiece) that are most exciting and adventurous. This set is well worth several listens…"
- SCOTT YANOW, ALL MUSIC GUIDE

“Bjorn Wennas has the chops you'd expect of someone who emigrated from Sweden to study with guitar gurus Mick Goodrick and Jon Damian. But the emphasis on his second CD is composition and ensemble interplay."
- JOHN GARELICK, BOSTON PHOENIX

“…(Bjorn Wennas is) a young and skilled guitar player and composer…interesting original compositions."
- BRUNO POLLACCI, ANIMA JAZZ

“Wennas' free melodic thinking and lyrical playing can be enjoyed by anyone who likes Pat Metheney's jazz guitar playing. Wennas' tone is distinct, direct and naked. At the same time I like the rockier, distorted sound that comes out in his version of Miles Davis' Nardis."
- ULF GUSTAVSSON, UPPSALA NYA TIDNING

“(the CD) It's unusual in several regards, but mostly for featuring singer Carmen Marsico on four tracks. When she sings, or more commonly scats into the stratosphere, the music takes strange curves, swerving for unusual dramatic effect. …Phil Grenadier plays trumpet on most of those pieces, providing a contrasting voice. The other pieces are…providing a more basic framework for the guitar. At his best he (Bjorn Wennas) sounds distinctive and refreshing.
- TOM HULL

"This is a recording that demands more than one listening to really appreciate its complexity. However, it is the musicians that are the CD's real attraction and Carmen Marsico's version of Monk's “Ruby My Dear" accompanied by Wennas' tasty guitar is a standout."
- BERTIL DANIELSSON, FALUKURIREN

“this is Carmen Marsico's jazz vocal debut… The accompanying group, a guitar plus rhythm section combo, sounds well oiled and crisp...The aforementioned Wennas is the apparent leader here, getting off articulate solos..."
- MICHAEL P. GLADSTONE, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

“Swedish-born, Boston-based jazz guitarist Bjorn Wennas' debut CD, Early Summer Sketch, starts out with a sizzle. "Off" is an uptempo jaunt with a memorable melody, stinging guitar chops, and crisp sax/guitar unison. Wennas' solo has a tang to it as it dances with his band's bubbling rhythm. The next cut, "Early Summer Sketch" slows things down, featuring some of the disc's best sax/guitar interplay in a brooding mood. A fine debut; a nicely interactive band with a definite future."
- DAN MCCLENAGHAN, ALL ABOUT JAZZ

“Bjorn Wennas, born in Sodertälje, is one of these young guitar players that don't seem to know any limits to what he can do with an instrument. It is excellently played, not only by the guitarist himself and saxophonist Kristof Bacso.."
- BERTIL DANIELSSON, FALUKURIREN

“This sounds really good...we can hear mood setting music infused with curiosity, visions of the future and a bit of melancholy...Wennas himself is an interesting guitarist. Above all, his interplay with saxophonist Kristof Bacso is excellent."
- TORSTEN CARLSSON, LANSTIDNINGEN

“Interesting Swedish guitar debutant. This is thematically through-composed quartet jazz, not resting in the bebop tradition, but rather in the fusion of the seventies and with traces of rock in the driving rhythm section, but still with a lot of air. Bjorn Wennas' lyrical and harmonically free melodic thinking may lead your thoughts to Chick Corea's early albums (even though Wennas' quartet is without piano)."
- ULF GUSTAVSSON, UPPSALA NYA TIDNING

“This debut CD shows a stable instrumentalist.. What I really appreciate is the will to do something personal."
- OVE WALL, OM JAZZ