Katzen Kapell
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Katzen Kapell

Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden | MAJOR

Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden | MAJOR
Band World Alternative




"My music"

I got the two latest Katzen Kapell albums.
In a word this is my music,very close to my heart.
Cerebral and romantic, intellectual and melancholic.
I think of Paris - Seine banks when I listen to it... - Alexander Tokar


A great work, a step further in the direction of the previous marvellous "Si tu veu", with jazz roots, folk and eastern influences. A tango feeling pervades the whole cd, some fine avant solution in the harmony, an orchestral approach and great arrangements. A must have.
- Ruggero Formenti / Agartha Prog


Katzen Kapell are one of Sweden's most original bands, using a wide and unusual array of instruments to create a blend of styles - strongly Tango-based but with many elements including jazz, cabaret, folk, world music, classical and experimental. Piazzola meets Zappa and Stravinsky and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. “Maximalism”, their 4th recording, is mainly instrumental and uses their eclectic palette to create its own unique soundscape using accordion, voices, violin, grand piano, organ, marimba, vibraphone, drums, percussion, glockenspiel and double bass. Their original compositions combine an urban melancholy with oriental romance and can move in mood from bold and humorous to introspective and dreamlike. Their name was inspired by the Katzenjammer Kids comics, but also derives from the Swedish words for cat and ensemble. Their first self-titled album was released in 1994 - and they have toured in Europe and the US. The band are : Catharina Backman: accordion and vocals, Eva Lindal: violin, Magnus Andersson: organ, wurlitzer and vocals; Kjell Nordeson: marimba and vibraphone, Erik Hammarstrom: drums, percussion, & glockenspiel; & Peter Janson: double bass. - System Records

"Katzen Kapell - Si Tu Veux"

Katzen Kapell's long-awaited third album is a bit jazzier than their
previous releases. The double bass has replaced the electric bass on all
but one track and there is more room for semi-improvised solos on violin,
accordion, vibraphone and keyboards. The album starts off with the Eastern
European-tinged "Bukarest" followed by the cinematic "Dorleac" (dedicated
to the late French actress Françoise Dorléac). The title track, "Si Tu
Veux" ("If You Want" in French), has lyrics in a strange mixture of
French, Swedish and English plus one word in German - 'Liebchen'. - Mategra / RateYourMusic


With accordion and fiddle upfront, veterans Katzen Kapell play music that’s just as evocative of Argentina and Eastern Europe as it is of their Swedish homeland. It says something that one of the band’s most well-known songs is called Bukarest. The band lists amongst its diverse influences Astor Piazzolla, Kurt Weill and film-score legends Nino Rota and Bernard Hermann. Toured the USA in the autumn of 2007. - Jan Gradvall / STIM

"Si Tu Veux"

Before I heard the CD I guessed it would be a klezmer/Yiddish kind of CD. How wrong I was! This sextet impresses me with a good mixture of tango, classical, jazz and rock related music. Six original tracks, over forty minutes of passionate cross-over music with a central role for Catharina Backman on the accordion and Eva Lindal on the violin. It’s energetic, furious and technically of the highest level. Maybe a bit to far out for the real tango fans, but I love this creative album full of surprising sounds and passionate music.
- Folkworld

"Katzen Kapell"

KK is a very class Swedish act making original, jazzish music drawing on tango with touches of Indian scales and hints of Parisian or Berlin cabaret, like music for a passionate European film noir. - Andrew Cronshaw


Katzen Kapell CD 1994
Alla Hatar Min Man CD 1998
Si Tu Veux CD 2007
Maximalism CD 2008

Si Tu Veux and Maximalism are available for streaming at Spotify



San Francisco Chronicle
Katzen Kapell Squeeze box is front and center in diverse Swedish band whose experimental sound is inspired by Piazzolla, Zappa and Stravinsky

Derk Richardson
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Catharina Backman has a great excuse for playing the accordion. "They forced me to," says the founder and leader of the eclectic Swedish band Katzen Kapell. "I played the piano but was touring with a small circus, and they said, 'You won't have this job unless you learn the accordion.' "

In 1986, after a couple of seasons with Varieté Vauduvill, Backman got together in Stockholm with a few former fellow music students and formed Katzen Kapell. (The name was inspired by the Katzenjammer Kids comics but also derives from the Swedish words for cat and ensemble.)

By then, Backman had changed her tune about the squeeze box. "I didn't even like the instrument," she said in a recent midnight telephone conversation from Sweden, "until I heard the bandoneon player from Argentina, Astor Piazzolla." Upon listening to the master of tango nuevo in 1984, Backman recalled, "I just thought, 'I'm in heaven.' The music was so beautiful, so tender, so aggressive, so humoristic, so rhythmic. It really appealed to me. I couldn't copy it, but I'm really inspired by it."

In Katzen Kapell, Backman's passion for Piazzolla plays against keyboardist-composer Magnus Andersson Lagerqvist's fascination with Frank Zappa and Igor Stravinsky. Add a classical violinist (Eva Lindal), acoustic double bassist (Gustaf Hielm), rock-influenced drummer (Erik Hammarström), and jazz-inspired vibraphonist and percussionist (Kjell Nordeson) and you have a band that Backman says appeals to "mixed audiences, from teenagers to very old people."

In an e-mail exchange, vibist Nordeson, who divides his time between Stockholm and San Francisco, noted that Katzen Kapell plays "all kinds of venues - jazz clubs, art venues, contemporary music series, concert halls, rock clubs. I have the impression that audiences can easily relate to our music in many ways." Nordeson joined the group in 1991. He has his own ambivalence about the instrument he plays. "I have some kind of love-hate relationship with the vibraphone," he said. "I love its potential for creating melody and harmony, but am often frustrated by its unchangeable pitch. That feeds a need to override the instrument and avoid its idiomatic cliches."

Katzen Kapell has proved a perfect vehicle for such experimentation. "The band manages to stay away from too academic an approach, and nourishes a closeness to an alternative prog-punk tradition," Nordeson said, "despite the fact that Catharina has gone through seven years of university studies in classical composition."

With three CDs to its credit, including the new "Si Tu Veux," Katzen Kapell is only now making its U.S. debut - four shows in the Bay Area pivoting around an invitation from Other Words, the fifth annual San Francisco International Poetry Festival. At the Swedish American Hall Sunday - and Wednesday at Stanford University's Wallenberg Hall - the band will accompany actress Sara Lindh reciting lyrics by Swedish poet Bodil Malmsten.

Katzen Kapell's compositions and improvisations now draw on dance hybrids from North Africa, the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent, as well as European folk music and modern film scores. The sound should play well in San Francisco, birthplace of groups like Tin Hat and Tango No. 9, because, as Backman said, "the music fits in everywhere and nowhere."