• Sweden's news in English

The American who keeps Stockholm swinging

Lysanne Sizoo · 11 Jun 2010, 11:01

Published: 11 Jun 2010 11:01 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

American Jazz maverick Andy Fite formed part of the opening night line-up at Stockholm’s latest addition to the local jazz scene. The new club, entitled ‘Keep Swinging’, is quaintly located in Slakthusområdet, the meat-packing district close to Globen.

Fite, who played some sets with Jerry Stensen, Per Nilsson, and Uffe Flink, had the audience responding with recognition and delight to his mixture of mad-cap songs, traditional jazz pieces and wild flights of improvisational fancy.   

While the atmosphere at ‘Keep Swinging’ is unpretentious and true to the club’s name, the average age of these jazz lovers was well over fifty.

“There is a strong tendency in Sweden towards age segregation, and this generation took jazz as the banner of their rebellion when they were young. The generation that followed had to make their own break with the past, and that included leaving jazz behind,” says Fite.

And so nurturing young talent is another of his many endeavours, both as a teacher and at the monthly open mike sessions at Aguéli, a groovy little café on Södermalm. The ‘No Paper Jam’ nights attract a more mixed audience, with young students jamming away with the older generation.  

“I also started these open mike nights at Aguéli because I missed the unbridled musical sharing that was part of my experience in New York”, says Fite.


He was born and raised in Pittsburgh and in his twenties he moved to New York and furthered his trade at the musical feet of Connie Crothers. Soon he was playing regularly with a number of close friends to the late pianist Lennie Tristano, one of Fite’s personal heroes and great source of inspiration.

“Tristano said the greatest thing you ever did is the true measure of your ability. And when you know that and truly believe it, you’ll find your way back to that state of being much more easily and consistently. And then you’ll still have inspired moments, which in turn you will understand to be your new real level”.


He describes himself as a Jazz Comic Philosopher, and a musical evening with Fite is like a rollercoaster ride of deep musical and philosophical contemplation, interspersed with rounded belly laughs, and outrageous anecdotes about his early days on the New York jazz scene:

“In Jazz improvisation, anything can happen, and moments of brilliance can emerge as artists let go of what they have been taught and place themselves in a constant uninterrupted flow, a creative state that feels to me like channelling a cosmic energy. Connie opened my eyes to the possibility of communicating pure life energy through music; that ultimately the feeling we express includes not only emotion, but physical sensation, intuition, and at the deepest level, soul.

“Our very identity is communicated. Which is why, I think, so many of us have the feeling that we actually know those artists we love the most. It’s because we really do. This is especially true for jazz improvisation, where there is no place for the left brain”.

For a rare moment he falls silent as he remembers how profoundly this affected him, and then he grins; “basically, she taught me to breathe”.  

He has written over 400 songs, in which he offers a rich repertoire of satirical, political, social, sexual and philosophical commentary, accompanied by an almost symbiotic relationship with his favourite instrument, the guitar. Songs with titles such as Sex With My Ex, I Wanna Die, and It Was Really Your Roommate I Wanted, combine bittersweet reality with humour and self deprecating insight.  

Story continues below…

I imagine the New York jazz scene to be a world apart from tonight’s gig in the suburbs of Stockholm, and I ask Fite what, if anything, unites the two. Without hesitation he answers “People”. 

“People want to have a good time, share some laughs, and vibrations, and, in the Jazz context, want always to see what might happen next.”


As far as Fite is concerned, what happens next is a performance in Hälsingland in July, trips to Denmark and Germany, and of course the resumption of the No Paper Jam evenings at Cafe Aguéli, starting August 31.   

Related links:

Lysanne Sizoo (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available