Sten Hostfalt Biography

  Sten Hostfalt
New York Guitarist Composer Producer Educator

Sten Hostfalt solo at XXXV Encontres de Compositors, Pilar i Joan Miro´ Mallorca, Spain 2014. Photo by Jose' Luis Luna Rocafort


Acclaimed Swedish-born American guitar virtuoso, composer, bandleader, producer and record label proprietor Sten Hostfalt's four decade contribution to the global jazz and improvised music scene at leading concert stages, alongside some of the worlds most innovative musicians, has earned him credits for via longtime work with self-invented techniques within the parameter of pitch, to interpret microtones-contributing to an expansion of the vocabulary of the guitar, and to music of our time.

Released on the Sonus Rex label, his seventh album as a leader-'Microtonal Guitar Works Vol.1', celebrates fifteen years of microtonal guitar with Cuatros Primeras Piezas Para Microtonal Guitar composed for a 2014 solo premiere performance at the XXXV Encontre de Compositors at Pilar i Joan Miro' Mallorca Spain. Music composed for 2010-11 solo concerts at NYC's Symphony Space, and the 2014 microtonal large ensemble work Dimensional States for 13 musicians and 2 dancers. Following the '02 solo recording 29 Pieces for The Microtonal Guitar Live at Knitting Factory New York, critically regarded a seminal work for microtonal music on the guitar.

Sten Hostfalt was introduced on the New York jazz scene through early 1990's performances, recordings and collaborations with mentors, legendary icons of American music Jimmy Giuffre and Paul Bley, the latter of whom initiated Hostfalt's debute recording as a leader, Eternity Check. Concerts with masters of jazz Gary Burton, Peter Erskine, Clare Fischer, Rob McConnell and Bobby Shew. All following apprenticeship in jazz orchestras led by Herb Pomeroy, Phil Wilson and George Russell. As a guitarist in the first edition of Guillermo Klein's ensemble, he appeared alongside new jazz generation luminaries Mark Turner, Chris Cheek, Seamus Blake, Melvin Butler, Aaron Goldberg and Jeff Ballard weekly during the inception of subsequently famed New York jazz club Smalls.

Born into a musical family and initially self-taught, early musical experiences include classical guitar studies from age 16, semi-obscure activity on the 1980's Scandinavian DIY-Progressive music scene, and as a street musician in Copenhagen and Paris. As well as hearing fingerstyle blues guitar legend Big Joe Williams live and up close in an intimate setting, and participating in a workshop with jazz piano master Horace Parlan.

A veteran music educator, academically Mr. Hostfalt is a former teaching faculty member of The Royal College of Music in Stockholm. And an invited lecturer at New World School of The Arts at University of Florida, and at Berklee College of Music. As an alumnus of two of the world's most prestigious institutions for modern music education, he holds a Master of Music Degree in Composition, and a Graduate Diploma in Performance from New England Conservatory as an honors emissary. Along with a Bachelor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music with honors, and as an Outstanding Musicianship Award recipient. Since 2006 he operates his Manhattan creative music education studio-one of few facilities anywhere to offer microtonal music studies for the guitar.

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'Sten Hostfalt is a leading innovative guitarist and composer working on the New York music scene of today. He performs with some of the most original and unique voices in modern music and has been called 'highly exceptional' by legendary American music icon Jimmy Giuffre and 'virtuosic' by musical innovator Joe Maneri' writes distinguished master educator and Berklee College of Music Professor Jon Damian-one of the world's foremost thinkers about guitar, theory and pedagogy, in his book publication ' FRESH MUSIC : Explorations with The Creative Workshop Ensemble For Musicians, Artists and Teachers' a document of 40 years with Mr. Damian's creative workshop at Berklee which have hosted leading jazz guitarists Bill Frisell, Jeff Parker, Mark Whitfield, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Leni Stern, Wayne Krantz and Lionel Loueke.

Sten Hostfalt has developed his own repertoire incorporating microtones - a genuinely innovative approach, in the future 29 Pieces for the Microtonal Guitar may be be considered a groundbreaking work Don Williamson JAZZ REVIEW

'The total immersion of a miniverse of finely etched detail taken to glorious extremes, 29 Pieces for The Microtonal Guitar is among the most riveting explorations of the microtonal world ever recorded. It's fine focus and beauty of detail puts the cycle in a class with John Cage's exquisite 'Sonatas and Preludes for Prepared Piano' - Larry Cosentino, SIGNAL TO NOISE

Active as a performer, composer and bandleader since the late 70's, Sten Hostfalt's international recognition as a singularly unique and original guitarist, composer and solo performer came with his second album,'29 Pieces For The Microtonal Guitar Live at Knitting Factory New York". A 2002 solo concert recording devoted to a microtonal guitar and electronics program informed by mentor Joe Maneri's Equal-Tempered 72-note system. Released at the heels of his debut recordings as a leader 'Eternity Check', initiated by Hostfalt's mentor, American avantgarde pioneer Paul Bley, the following release, funded by little except utilizing a artist network, and pressed up in 300 (since long sold out) copies - '29 Microtonal Pieces' was considering it's independent production and unorthodox program very well-received.

'Sten Hostfalt takes the rigid confines of Guitar and transforms it into an instrument capable of exploring the minute spaces between traditional notes by using altered tunings, mechanical preparations and Electronically enhanced techniques. The result, 29 Pieces for the Microtonal Guitar, is an intriguing recording that shows just how far an instrument can be bent and altered to meet a more experimental and adventurous need, taking you on a journey to a place where rules simply don't exist. For those with ears broad enough to allow for the possibility that music can extend beyond the expected, and expand the potent boundaries of experience' John Kelman, All About Jazz

' Not for the faint of heart. Beyond rapturous. High density, highly logical in a completely different way, and highly recommended' - Kenneth Egbert, JAZZ NOW

'Rants And Raves-Editors Pick' - Barry Cleveland, GUITAR PLAYER

'In and out of the aural palette in an attractive complexity. Hostfalt gives you another angle on exploring tone colors and guitar abstractions that you will not want to miss' - Grego Applegate Edwards, CADENCE

Stylistically Jazz Now drew comparisons to John Fahey and Derek Bailey. Guitar Player's 'Rants and Raves' column placed the work next to 'The 21st Century Guide To King Crimson'. While Cadence noted Captain Beefheart and Jimi Hendrix influences. Since the debut CD's, Sten Hostfalt has produced five more-all in all seven recordings as a leader, on his own label, Sonus Rex ( formerly known as g-wOw ). In the process, enlisting engineers Greg Thompson ( They Might be Giants, David Byrne, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Justin Bieber, Korn ) Doug Henderson ( Anthony and The Johnsons, Devendra Banhart, Swans, Sleep, System of a Down ) and Eric Tew ( Super Furry Animals, Ted Leo, Boss Hog, Dixie Chicks, Sheryl Crow, Phife Dawg, Fountains of Wayne) and worked in some of New York's most influential studios of the new millennium-Micro-Moose and Kampo, and via grants from the Cultural Committee of Sweden at Le Triton, Paris France and in the Swedish Radio studio.

'Sten Hostfalt's prepared guitar explorations combine jazz soloing with surreal effects, we're Impressed with his fast finger and intense focus' - TIME OUT NEW YORK

' Inimitable, There Are Few Musicians like Sten Hostfalt '- PM NYC / PAPER MAGAZINE

As a leader and co-leader of groups and projects since the late 1970's, Sten Hostfalt's recordings have featured electric bass guitar virtuoso Matthew Garrison ( John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Steve Coleman, Josef Zawinul, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan ), trumpet player/keyboardist Takuya Nakamura ( Brazilian Girls, The Streets, Quincy Jones, CoCo Rosie ) drummer Marko Djordjevic and tenor saxophonist Matt Renzi. His performances as a leader of bands and orchestras such as G-Factor ( AKA Ghost Factor ), K-MOD, Soft Value, Sten Hostfalt Trio / Quartet and Dimensional States, has during the past three decades hosted bassists Tim Luntzel ( Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash, Pete Seeger, Neil Sedaka and Lee Ranaldo ), Richard Hammond ( Joan Osborne, Erasure and Angelique Kidjo ), Matt Pavolka ( Lee Konitz, Elysian Fields ) Masa Kamaguchi, Shayna Dulberger, saxophonists Ole Mathisen ( Randy Brecker, Dream Theater ), Seamus Blake ( John Scofield, Dave Douglas ) and 2017 Down Beat Rising Star Poll Winner Noah Preminger ( John Patittucci, Matt Wilson ), drummers Jimmy Weinstein, Blake Lindberg, Dave Miller, Federico Ughi and Cyril Atef ( Cheb Mami, Salif Keita ), vibraphonist Tom Beckham and vocalists Melissa Kassel, Liliana Santon and Constance Cooper.

Meanwhile as a sideman, Sten Hostfalt participated in and contributed to the development of a new generation in electronica through live performances with Collin Palmer, CALMER, and was featured on electric bass in shared events with Praveen, Travis Stewart AKA Machinedrum ( Azealia Banks, Jesse Boykins III ), Theophilus London ( Warner Bros, Kanye West, Rihanna ), Keith Murray ( DEF Squad ), Addiquit and MOBY. As a guitarist in drummer Marko Djordjevic's fusion outfit SVETI, btw 2006-09 Hostfalt performed with young jazz fusion talents Nir Felder, Janek Gwizdala and Brad Mason (Blood Sweat & Tears). Longtime membership of New York's famous 'Downtown scene' (since appearing with Guillermo klein at 'old' Knitting Factory in 1995) has included 70 performances, and the CD 'Now Matter' [ Sonus Rex/2011] with Downtown mainstay saxophonist Blaise Siwula and shared events with Tim Berne, Daniel Carter, Bern Nix, Ray Anderson, Herb Robertson and Bob Stewart.

Prior to his new millennium focus on work as a leader, Mr. Hostfalt apprenticed in jazz orchestras led by Phil Wilson and Herb Pomeroy ( taking over the guitar chair after Wolfgang Muthspiel, in one of the very last editions of the legendary Berklee 'Recording Band' that known from the 'Jazz In The Classsroom recordings' since the 50's featured Branford Marsalis, Joe Zawinul, Toshiko Akiyoshi, John Abercrombie and Quincy Jones ), briefly with George Russell ( the NEC Big Band ) and as a guitarist and featured soloist on Guillermo Klein's debute 'El Minotauro' (1994 Beat/1997 Candid) in 'Big Van'-the first edition of Klein's lauded large ensemble, a lineup described as 'unlike any other-one of the better continuing experiments in New York' by the New York Times, noted by All Music Guide for it's 'brilliant soloists' and in retrospect deemed semi-legendary' by Jazz Times Magazine. A creative format through which Hostfalt was introduced on the early 1990's New York Jazz scene alongside leading new generation jazz voices Chris Cheek, Mark Turner, Seamus Blake, Aaron Goldberg, Jeff Ballard and Melvin Butler at Mitch Borden's Jazz Club, Smalls weekly during the inception of the subsequently famed venue.

After departing from Klein's band ( and passing the chair to Kurt Rosenwinkel-featured on the unreleased first 'Los Guachos' album and then in turn to current guitarist, Ben Monder ) in favor for an offer to tour and record in Sweden, Norway and Finland with Swedish Sandviken Big Band, in support of mainstream Jazz artists Rob McConnell, Bobby Shew and Deborah Brown at leading concert halls and venues, and in shared festival events with Ray Brown, James Moody, Phil Woods, Tower of Power, Woody Herman Big Band and Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen.

Este virtuoso guitarrista y aclamado compositor neoyorkino se inicio' en la escena internacional del jazz a mediados de los años noventa y desde entonces ha recogido numerosos premios por sus originales proyectos y grabaciones. Y es que, Sten Hostfalt es un músico innovadorque ha ideado ténicas para el seis cuerdas estandár y más allá del sistema temperadode doce notas. En el XXXV Encontre Internacional de Compositors presenta en solitario su proyecto Microtonal guitar
- ARTS (Spain) 2014

Current or recent (as in past 10 years) work as a leader includes solo concert premier performances of original composed works at the XXXV Encontre de Compositors festival at Pilar i Joan Miro', Mallorca, Spain (2014) as well as at Symphony Space NYC (2010-11), collaborations with greek dance artist/choreographer Savina Theodorou, in addition to twice in 2014 staging his microtonal 15-piece ensemble, including two dance artists-performing Sten Hostfalt's original orchestral work 'Dimensional States' at ShapeShifter Lab NYC.

'A bunch of A-list adventurous Jazz types play Sten Hostfalt's microtonal Dimensional States for Orchestra

A U.S. East Coast resident for the better part of the past 30 years and a long-time New Yorker, Sten Hostfalt was born in 1962 in Lulea, Sweden and became a naturalized American Citizen by way of late 1980's-early 90's scholarships honorary awards and degrees from two of the world's foremost institutions in modern music-Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory. Initially self-taught as a guitarist and composer, he studied classical guitar from age 16, had didactic encounters with legendary fingerstyle Blues guitarists Big Joe Williams and Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown and attended a workshop with Jazz piano master Horace Parlan and egaged in a lenghthy period of self-studies that led to academic endavours generating a Bachelor's Degree from Berklee College of Music, a Master of Music Degree in Composition and a Graduate Diploma in Jazz Performance from New England Conservatory, via studies with Jimmy Giuffre, Joe Maneri, Paul Bley, Mick Goodrick and George Russell and concert performances with masters of Jazz Gary Burton, Peter Erskine and Clare Fischer. In addition to attending masterclass seminars with jazz guitar greats Pat Metheny and Larry Coryell and 20th century composition masters Toru Takemitsu and Gyorgi Ligeti.

Subsequent academic work has included being a teaching faculty member at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (2001-05), lecturing at Berklee College of Music (2006) and in 2010, at the New World School for The Arts, Miami FL, at the University of Florida. Since 2009 Mr. Hostfalt is a faculty member of New York Jazz Academy, described by the world's premier outlet for jazz, Down Beat Magazine as 'one of the fastest growing music schools in New York', and where he has shared teaching duties with bassists Jonathan Toscano ( Omar Hakim ) and Ron McLure ( Charles Lloyd, Wes Montgomery, Quest, Blood Sweat & Tears ) and appeared in concerts at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium. Since 2006 he directs his own educational operation Sten's Guitar Studio ( also known as NYC Guitar Studio ) a multi-genre facility notably known as one of few places anywhere to offer systematic microtonal music studies on the standard 6-string / 12-fret guitar.

All Rights Reserved © 2018 Sonus Rex. Sten Hostfalt is a SONUS REX recording artist professionally affiliated with Broadcast Music Inc. BMI and American Federation of Musicians Local 802, Associated Musicians of Greater New York.