Band Bio

The New York Jazz Exchange is a NYC/Stockholm collective forged in the 60's Blue Note traditions of Hard Bop, Ballads and Boogaloo. They have toured the United States and Europe several times since their founding in 2010 and their International CD Release Tour in 2016 took them to 18 different cities in Sweden as well as to NYC, Berlin, Koln, Munich, Brussels and Amsterdam.


Sean Nowell - Tenor Saxophone

Sean Nowell is a tenor saxophonist and composer from Birmingham, Alabama steeped in the southern traditions of blues, gospel, jazz, and funk fused with the complex harmonic and world rhythmic concepts that permeate the music of New York City. While in Alabama, he sang in cathedrals with a national touring a cappella choir and was exposed to vocal music from Germany, Eastern Europe, and Africa. He received a BA in Composition from Berklee College of Music in Boston in Jazz Composition and a MA from Manhattan School of Music in New York in Performance. 

He has composed and improvised film scores, music for ballet and theatre, 20th century classical music, big band, and small jazz ensembles and has pushed the timbral boundaries of the saxophone by integrating electronic effects pedals. He has traveled and collaborated with dancers, actors, painters, stilt walkers, and acrobats on multiple tours of China, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania, France, Germany, Hungary, Holland, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela, Singapore and the United States as Musical Director for Bond Street Theatre over the past decade. He’s participated in helping unite clashing religious and ethnic groups through music in Kosovo and is been proud to have toured for the US State Department in Turkey. 

By exchanging social and artistic ideas with local artists and holding master classes in these countries on American Jazz, by learning the folk music of the regions, and then by incorporating the authentic experience into his compositional and improvisational style, Sean Nowell crosses social and political boarders to spread goodness, truth, and brotherhood through Jazz Music. 

Sean has had performances with Dave Douglas (trumpet, grammy award winner), Rachael Z (pianist, Wayne Shorter), Reeves Gabrels (guitarist, David Bowie), Tim Lefebvre (bass, Rudder, Saturday Night Live, Chris Botti), Donny McCaslin (sax, Dave Douglas), Anton Fig (drums, David Letterman).  He also recorded with Stanley Clarke and George Duke for the movie "Soul Men" starring Bernie Mac and Samuel Jackson and co-wrote the score for the Nick Nolte movie "Off the Black". 

Sean has also been a motivating force in the New York City jazz community by having hosted weekly jazz composers forums in Manhattan and Brooklyn clubs that consistently showcase the freshest and most cutting edge jazz in the city, as well as collaborating and recording with the next generation of jazz, funk, and avant-garde masters. 

His first release, "FIREWERKS", was born from these weekly sessions and has garnered critical acclaim for the band's highly interactive and rhythmically adventuresome approach that got him immediately signed as a Posi-Tone Records Recording Artist.  "Tenor Saxophonist/Composer Sean Nowell fuses introspective melodies, darkly hued harmonies and angular rhythmic structures to create a sound that has succeeded at melding, morphing and mixing the best of Blue Note-era small group nirvana with the Headhunters’ pocket and vibe, evolving it to Right Now.”  “Cerebral music, but played with soul and feeling; ballads that somehow build into frenetic climaxes.”

Every track on his second release for Posi-Tone Records, "THE SEEKER", is an expression of fantastic and dangerous experiences collected over the years of exploring the less traveled corners of the planet and features Dave Eggar on Cello (Evanescence, Michael Brecker, Chris Potter) and Nir Felder on Guitar (Greg Osby). "The Seeker" must be considered a candidate as one of the finest jazz releases of the year." "After getting a copy of this disc it is clearly up for running as a top ten in my collection for 2009."  "Playing with the sophistication of a John Coltrane and the grace of a Lee Konitz, Nowell unfurls the sax for intense tenor work dominating the band and delivering an excellent session of straight ahead contemporary jazz elevating “The Seeker” to an elite category."  "The Seeker's predominant vibe is a modern day re-energization of the East Coast hard bop of the 1950s and 1960s.  The result is a chili-hot stew of galvanizing intensity." 

His third Posi-Tone release, "STOCKHOLM SWINGIN'",  was recorded Live at Glenn Miller Cafe after a 3 week tour with The NYC/Stockholm Jazz Quintet.  It garnered significant critical acclaim including "Jazz Times Top 50 of 2011" The Critics say "Swingin' is definitely the best way to describe Sean Nowell's third album. It's a well balanced and straight-ahead killer set from the Alabama native now New Yorker".  "Establishing himself as a solid performer and laying in a steady stream of clean accessible rhythms in this live setting, makes Stockholm Swingin' an enjoyable listen and enticing venture for every music fan."  "Stretching and flexing notes like Dexter Gordon or Sonny Rollins, Nowell sets a fire in a live session.  " feels like a Kenny Burrell/John Coltrane session or a flavourful early George Benson album."

His critically acclaimed fourth installment for Posi-Tone, “THE KUNG-FU MASTERS” is taking New York audiences by storm with their FX driven jazz/funk that has featured Ari Hoenig, Marko Djordjevic and Cliff Almond on drums / Nir Felder, Al Street, Randy Runyon on Guitar / Art Hirahara, Adam Klipple, Walter Fischbacher, Brian Charette, Isamu McGregor on keys / Janek Gwizdala, Chris Tarry, Panagiotis Andreou, Evan Marien on electric bass / Krussia - Beatbox / Baba Israel and Eternia - MC / Brad Mason and Jeremy Pelt on Trumpet and Alan Ferber, Elliot Mason, Ryan Keberle, Andy Hunter, Mike Dease on Trombone.  "Breath taking electric jazz/funk." "Jazz for the rave generation." "A thrilling acid jazz smackdown". "An eclectic update on the more cerebral music that emerged from the 1970's." "Old school tunes with a contemporary twist, the sonic circle being made complete." "A super sonic stew that really gets the blood flowing." "Fortified with funk and an undercurrent of articulated syncopation that is somewhat reminiscent of the early days of Chicago." "The horn section functions together like a modern dance club version of the JBs, nailing tasty riffs into place over the rhythm section."

Sean is also part of the most creative, forward thinking ensembles in the city including Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra (all Bjork jazz-tronica big band) and performs regularly in the top jazz clubs in New York City including the Blue Note, Smalls, The 55 Bar, The Jazz Standard, BB Kings, Birdland, Cleopatra's Needle, the Knitting Factory, and Zebulon as well as international jazz clubs such as Club JZ (Shanghai), CD Jazz (Beijing), Café Plato (Belgrade) and has played the JVC Jazz Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival and for 30,000 people at the Montreal Jazz Festival.


For further jazz-related projects as well as the full Sean Nowell EPK, please visit


Fredrik Olsson - Guitar

Fredrik Olsson is a guitar player and composer from Umeå, Sweden, with deep roots in jazz and rock music, as well as Swedish folk lore. For the past decade he has been deeply involved in the Swedish jazz scene, performing and recording with his own projects, as well as a sideman. He has toured throughout the Scandinavian countries, Israel and the US, and has recieved a multitude of grants from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.

Born in 1973, Fredrik has worked extensively with the generation of Swedish jazz giants that came up in the 1960s such as Bernt Rosengren, Gunnar Bergsten, Tommy Koverhult and Nisse Sandström to name a few. He has also performed with the newer crop of masters like Karl-Martin Almkvist, Amanda Sedgwick and Klas Toresson. He recently completed a 22 date tour with his trio Visa på annorlunda vis, which features Fredriks innovative arrangements of Swedish folk music. This group has played close to 200 concerts in the past years and is scheduled to release a live recording in 2013. A recording and tour of Russia with pianist Igor Besschastny is in the works, featuring the compositions of both.

 As a member of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Fredrik keeps a busy touring schedule. He is also involved in many other projects, always seeking to connect with creative and expressive musicians everywhere.

Leo Lindberg - Piano

Born in 1993 in Stockholm in a musical family with a bassist father and a harpist mother. Since the age 5 he was joining his father who is jazz musician on his gigs around Stockholm. At about 6 he started to play drums along with him and his friends, sometimes even on stage. At 7 he started to play trumpet and performed on some local clubs with his father and other grown up musicians. Along with trumpet he started to play double bass, flute and guitar. 

In 2003 he read an article in a swedish jazz magazine that bassist Henry Grimes had come back to the jazz scene again. Then Leo wrote a letter to encourage him to continue playing.

“Hallo Henry!” it began. “My name is Leo Lindberg and I am 9 years old. I listen to jazz music all the time … and play double-bass drums and trumpet.”

Leo wrote that he heard Mr. Grimes playing on a Don Cherry recording called “Complete Communion” and that, “I thought you were fantastic specially the bow solos and your sound.” He wrote that “I was very happy” that Mr. Grimes was playing again.

“Hope you feel good and starts playing again,” he wrote. “You are my bass hero.”

He included a photograph of himself with his double-bass and wearing a T-shirt with a photograph of Mr. Grimes.

Mr. Grimes wrote back and the two became pen pals.

At about 10 Leo's main instrument was drums. But after playing a jam session in 2006 where he was asked to play piano he fell in love with the instrument. Even though he kept playing several instruments piano became the main thing. At age 13 he appeared on a record playing drums with swedish tenor sax legend Tommy Koverhult and his father Ove Gustafsson. He was composer to one of the tunes called "Leo's Bag". At about this time he started performing as a troubaduor playing and singing songs written by swedish singer song writer Cornelis Vreeswijk. Then he performed at festivals, churches and local bars. At this period of time he also started playing Hammond Organ after hearing Melvin Rhyne on the records with Wes Montgomery.

From the 5th to the 9th grade he went to a school with focus on dancing and singing. Now he is at upper secondary school with focus on music and especially jazz and afro american music.

In 2004 and 2006 Henry Grimes came to Europe Leo played flute and drums with his band on gigs in Sweden and Denmark.

In 2009 he went to New York with his guitar playing friend Fredrik Olsson to visit Henry Grimes. He stayed at his house and played a couple of gigs with him and also did a radio show on WKCR. During the stay he and Fredrik Olsson played a session with tenor player Sean Nowell and drummer Joe Abba. We came to like each other and talked about Sean and Joe coming to Sweden to make a tour. And about a year later Leo and Fredrik got a scholarship to make it possible for them to come to Sweden and for Leo and Fredrik to come to New York. And on the Swedish tour they recorded live at Glenn Miller Café and this material is going to be used on Sean Nowell's upcoming record "Stockholm Swingin'". And now in august he is going do a couple of gigs with Sean for the release of the record in NY at Smalls Jazz Club and 55 Bar to mention a few places.

In 2010 he won a Swedish competition in Jazz with his trio with Kenji Rabson, bass and Moussa Fadera, drums arranged by society "Classic Jazz" . He also got the Louis Armstrong Scholarship by same society later the same year.

Recently Leo appeared on Swedish Television playing with his trio featuring alto sax player Amanda Sedgwick.

Last couple of years Leo has played over 100 concerts a year in various bands while still in high school.

His musical influences are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Red Garland, Henry Grimes, Charlie Parker, Herbie Hancock, Mccoy Tyner, Sonny Clark, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul and of course some Swedish musicians such as Kjell Larsson, Anders Ullberg, Bernt Rosengren, Tommy Koverhult and Cornelis Vreeswijk just to name a few.


Lars Ekman - Acoustic Bass

Swedish born, New York based bass player Lars Ekman is an integral part of today's music scene. Mr Ekman, born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden spent the first years of his career on the thriving Swedish jazz scene, playing with highly respected European musicians as Magnus Lindgren, Bernt Rosengren and Elisabeth Kontomanou as well as in the successful Nina Ramsby Ludvig Berghe Trio.

To further develop his music, Mr Ekman was fortunate to spend an increasing part of time in New York City towards the end of the decade. Eventually, in early 2013 Ekman found himself permanently living and performing daily in the city's different music venues such as Small's, 55 Bar and Fat Cat along with some of the city's top musicians. 

Not only an acoustic bass player, you will also find Mr Ekman playing electric bass in various settings and styles. He has also been writing arrangements for everything from French chansons to modern pop and rock.

Mr Ekman has recorded over 30 albums as a sideman and in 2008 he recorded his debut album Introducing Lars Ekman and released it on Stockholm Jazz Records to critical acclaim. 

Lars has performed at the following clubs: Small´s, Fat Cat, 55 Bar, NuBlu (New York City) Sunset/Sunnyside (Paris) A-Trane (Berlin), Unterfahrt (Munich), Fasching (Stockholm), Copenhagen Jazzhouse, Nasjonal Jazzscene (Oslo), No Black Tie (Kualo Lumpur), Half Note (Athens), Alfie (Tokyo), Royal Horse (Osaka), Thelonius (Santiago).

...and at the following festivals; The Jazz In Sangres Festival (USA), Bridgeport Jazz Expo (USA), JakJazz Festival (Indonesia), Penang Jazz Festival (Malaysia), Santiago Jazz Fest (Chile), Temuco Jazz (Chile), Jazz In der Ministergade (Germany), Umeå International Jazz Festival (Sweden), Stockholm Jazz Festival (Sweden), Copenhagen Jazz Festival (Denmark), Maijazz (Norway)

 Artists and musicians Ekman has worked with include: Elisabeth Kontomanou, China Moses, Gary Versace, James Hurt, Miles Griffiths, Adam Birnbaum, Quincy Davis, Dayna Stephens, Sean Nowell, Masuo Yoshiaki, Carlos Abadie, Luca Santaniello, Jacob Melchoir, Jon Davis, Joel Holmes, Donald Kontomanou, André Ceccarelli, Glen Ferris, Alexandre Herer, Thibault Perriard, Magnus Hjort, Snorre Kirk, Mads La Cour, Hayden Powell, Ola Kvernberg, Magnus Lindgren, Jessica Pilnäs, Bernt Rosengren, Fredrik Norén, Jonas Kullhammar, Karl-Martin Almquist, Peter Asplund, Ludvig Berghe, Daniel Fredriksson, and many, many more.

Joe Abba - Drums

Joe Abbatantuono has been a native New Yorker for his entire life. Born in the Bronx and raised in Dutchess County, he began playing drums at age nine and has continued to this day. He holds a B.M. from The Crane School of Music and an M.A. from New York University and has been playing drums & percussion for over twenty years. His musical directions are vast: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Hip Hop, Big Band, Latin, Experimental, Funk and more; this diversity of styles stands as the basis for his musical path. This international journey has taken him to cities & countries such as Mexico, Montreal, Toronto, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Turkey, Italy, Sweden, and across the United States, where he has shared his and others' music with many cultures. 

While the majority of Joe Abba's career has been as a sideman, he has also become a prolific bandleader. Successful projects include his own acoustic jazz group, The Joe Abba Jazz Project, which takes many forms, from small group to large ensemble, and tackles music from jazz standards to modern originals, and to his more experimental/avante garde works. Joe also co-leads a Hip Hop/Fusion band with saxophonist/composer Travis Sullivan, called The Identity Crisis, which features singers, rappers, laptops, percussion, horns and  a genre-bending rhythm section. This band's music is mainly groove and funk oriented, while still owing much of its depth and improvisation to the jazz realm.

Pop/Rock Credits:

Pacha Massive,  Jessica Simpson, Collider, CJ & Tommy Ramone, Shayna Steele, Jeebus, Steve Albini, Benny Rietveld, Jerry Jemmott, Sheldon Low

Jazz/Experimental Credits:

The Joe Abba Jazz Project, The Identity Crisis,  Dave Douglas, Donny McCaslin,  Lew Soloff, Sean Nowell, The Bjorkestra, Jeff Lederer, Harvie S., Chris Tarry, Francois Moutin, Andy Laverne, Nir Felder, Sam Barsh, Adam Klipple, Ingrid Jensen, David Cook, Jeremy Pelt, Kat Calvosa, Frank Lacy, Ray Anderson, Rez Abassi, Janek Gwizdala, The JMJ Trio, Monatomic, Terese Genecco

Television/Performance Credits:

The Tonight Show, MTV Spring Break, Good Day New York, Nightline, CBS’ Sunday Morning, The Montreal Jazz Festival, JVC Jazz Festival, The Blue Note, Birdland, The Jazz Standard, Bowery Ballroom, Irving Plaza, Teatro Manzoni, CBGB's (R.I.P.)