There’s never been a point for Paal Nilssen-Love where jazz drumming wasn’t an integral part of his life. His father, a British drummer who married a Norwegian woman, moved to the small town of Stavanger, where they opened a jazz club. This allowed the young Paal (pronounced Paul) to meet a host of legendary players, one of whom was Art Blakey. “He came to my parents’ house after a gig in Stavanger when I was eight years old or so,” Nilssen-Love recalls. So it should be no surprise that when it came time to choose an instrument in school, he opted for drums and has never looked back.
His first recording was a 1992 session with the Circulasione Totale Orchestra, led by saxophonist Frode Gjerstad. Since then, he’s appeared on literally hundreds of albums with a vast range of partners. He’s probably best known for his work with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten in the free jazz/garage rock trio The Thing, and with German sax titan Peter Brötzmann in a variety of contexts, ranging from duos to the Chicago Tentet. In recent years, he’s been releasing material on his own PNL imprint.