Over his long career, Winnipeg sax player Walle Larsson
has played in just about every musical situation imaginable.
Eventually, he concentrated on the genre of smooth jazz and has
travelled from Japan and New York to perform.
Recently, one of Larsson's songs charted on Billboard's Smooth Jazz Chart.
It all started innocently enough a little more than 38 years ago, when Larsson was working as a waiter at Chateau Lake Louise,
one of the famous former Canadian Pacific hotels. At the time, he was
18 and was primarily a flute player who loved skiing.
As fate would have
it, that season the trumpet player from the hotel's house band was in a
skiing accident. With a split lip, it was impossible to play. So, the
bandleader did what any musician in the same situation would - called a
Actually, he called Larsson since he knew Larsson was a budding
musician and asked him to fill in. It all worked out well for Larsson,
although hotel management preferred for him to wait on tables instead of
play in the band. In fact, he worked there for over four
Eventually, though, Larsson made the saxophone his main instrument, and he has enjoyed a stellar career as a sideman, composer and bandleader since that unexpected opportunity.
Over the last few years, Larsson has produced a summer series of smooth jazz concerts in Winnipeg's famous Assiniboine Park. He's brought in musicians such as keyboard whiz Jeff Lorber, saxophonist Dave Koz, guitarist Brian Hughes and Carol Welsman, among others.
was another artist that Larsson brought in for the series, and it was
Oliver who encouraged Larsson to promote his recordings south of the
Larsson sent out his most recent CD, After the Night, and the title track soon started to climb the Billboard Smooth Jazz chart. It made it to #19. This alone opened the doors for Larsson, and he soon started to receive calls from other players in the U.S., giving their encouragement. Plus, work opportunities started to come in.
Larsson says the smooth jazz market in Canada is still being
developed, whereas in the U.S. it's been a huge specialty genre for
years. His love of smooth jazz also opened up a side career as a radio
host for several smooth jazz shows on this side of the border.
Catch Walle Larsson on Thursday August 9 Live on the Rooftop at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.