Interview With Georg Wadenius
Interviewed by David Callow

Q: You have composed a wide expanse of music - contemporary, jazz/fusion, funky, TV, children’s, advertising themes, and theatre work. That is quite a range! How do you compose? Which is first, music or lyrics?  How do you visualize instrumentals?

A: I have always preferred to do a lot of different things for variety. Composing is easier when there is a direction. This can be a concept, a good starting theme I have roughed out, an assignment, or a lyric.

Q: What are the qualities you yourself look for most in music?

A: Harmonics, and structure most of all. After that, melody then instrumentation in that order. I also like to be surprised at times; not always being able to predict what comes next in a piece.

Q: Besides music, do any hobbies, books, films, etc. influence your work?

A: No, it is a seperate specialty.

Q: On which albums do you think your playing is at its best?

A: A lot of my best playing is on other people's albums! Of course, any artists express themselves best on solo material, so after you have heard mine, recommend listening also to....
"Never Too Much" Luther Vandross [Sony 37451] (1987) especially the track "House Is Not A Home". This album holds good memories for me, my most enjoyable studio experience because Luther sang the vocals live, he directed, and there was tremendous musical sensitivity and interaction between all the performers 

"Kamikiriad" Donald Fagan [WEA/Warner Bros. 45230] (1993) where I play all rhythm guitars. (It also features Randy Brecker and Lou Marini)

"Alive In America" Steely Dan [WEA/Warner Bros. 24634] (1995) where I play on most tracks.
Q: Reviewing your music in chronological order, can you please tell of the earlier times?

A: I formed and lead the first version of the Made In Sweden group in 1968.
All the material was performed in English and in order of appearance was

"Made In Sweden With Love" (1968)
"Snakes In A Hole" Sonet (1969)
"Live At The Golden Circle"
"Made In England" Sonet.

Q: Was the next stage was to move into a wider exposure beyond Sweden?  The different style and the album title of the last release by that line-up seem to signal that?

A: Though Made In Sweden and the British group Colosseum never appeared on the same bill together, we did meet their bassist Tony Reeves. His production work bore a wider exposure in mind and strongly contributed to the direction of "Made In England". After that, I changed direction for a while and, together with a husband and wife team put out the Solar Plexus album [E 154-34573/4   EMI label]  (1971)

Q: I know you left “Solar Plexus” for BS&T of course, but what were the key factors that made them welcome you onboard ? You had won three Emmy awards - was  that seen as a way of making improved European sales more accessible? Emphasizing that the band was truly  international in its appeal ?

A: I was not overawed, instead confident but not overconfident. Rather than anything else, those remaining from the previous line-up simply liked what I did.

Q: When you joined, what was the brief ?

A: These guys were a group of musician-idealists, rather than a  predetermined musical direction. There were no businessmen amongst them except Colomby, and even he wasn't to a great extent when I joined up.

Q: The four years you were with BS&T also coincided with widely changing musical content. During that time how were compositions selected for inclusion on albums - by group consensus? Using what standards? Who had most say etc. etc.

A: It was a mix of things, not based on marketing.  Personalities of course, played a part, but mostly the music spoke for itself.

New Blood (1972)

Original Regrouping: L to R Dick Halligan, Dave Bargeron, Lew Soloff (seated), Steve Katz, Bobby Colomby, Joe Henderson (standing) George Wadenius (seated) Bobby Doyle, Jim Fielder, and Chuck Winfield.

Q: For “New Blood” I notice you co-arranged one track, "Velvet", but that came later. Please let us know how the line-up eventually settled first.

A: Joe Henderson and then Bobby Doyle both left due to various differences, both did not stay long enough to have anything released with the group, but parting was amicable. In fact, I also recorded on one of Joe’s solo albums. Later, Jerry, Lou, and  Larry and were all recruited due to their sheer musicianship.

Q: Had the Doyle, Halligan, and Henderson line-up continued, in what ways do you think the music would have differed compared to "New Blood?"

A: I think more blues influence would have been heard.


Q: How did your songwriting partnership arise with the formidable Cynthia Weil?

A: Of course, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil are husband and wife, and Bobby Colomby knew them both. Cynthia needed a change from composing just with her husband for a while. Since I was a three time Emmy award winner Bobby was able to put it all together.

Mirror Image Lineup: L to R: Jerry Fisher, Tony Klatka, Bobby Colomby, Dave Bargeron, Larry Willis, Georg Wadenius, Bill Tillman, Jerry LaCroix, and Ron McClure.

Q: BS&T traditionally had two trumpets. So why was Jerry LaCroix (sax/ second vocalist) recruited instead?

A: Bobby Colomby – marketing ! To balance my comments on the approach Bobby used back then, though, don’t picture him as just a businessman. I could mention one of his dreams seemed to be to drum with Bill Evans. He knew every Evans piece note-perfect!

Q: Was there jealousy from Jerry Fisher ?

A: Well, he never allowed any to show.


Q: Are rumors of DCT joining the “Mirror Image” lineup on stage true?  I guess that is not something that would easily be forgotten.

A: Well, I cannot recall that. Overall, though, since you asked about staff changes...I have tried to comment...but should point out that really, this is something that each individual should tell you for themselves. I can only give my best understanding of how things were.

Q: "New City" restored the commercial fortunes of the band for a while. Why was this only temporary?

A: Whereas most of us tended to be purist musicians, at the time David was seriously “misbehaving”, so to speak ! Because of that, it could have been a much happier band, which likely had something to do with it.

Q: Why did you leave ?

A: During that same time when things could have been happier amongst us, when the working environment could have been more stable, Bobby was also being very business minded too.  Everyone had a fortnight’s vacation, and during that time I thought it over and decided to move on.

Q: Can you remember any compositions for BS&T still unreleased ?

A: From the five years during which I was part of it all, none that I can remember other than three of my compositions. You would have to ask others to check that further, though.

Q: Any commercially available videos besides "Live In Stockholm" from those five years ?

A: Not that I know of.

Q: So what happened next after BS&T?

A: Right after leaving in 1976,  Sony wanted me to record a solo album of “Scat” singing. This was just before George Benson.  Its one of those “If I had known then what I know now” situations. Anyway, I then returned to Sweden, formed the second version of the Made In Sweden group,  and recorded "Where Do We Begin" [Love LRCD 207] (1976)

Q: What came  next?

A: I then went on to recorded a  solo album titled simply with my own name. First released in 1978, it has recently become available as a CD by the EMI company’s Frituna label in Sweden [code  Frituna 01252]. It includes a solo version  of  “Harriet” which was considered for release on a BS&T album.

Q: In the past, you mentioned  Michael Brecker, Tom Malone and Marcus Miller as outstanding musicians. Together with Leon Pendarvis, a much respected musician in his own right, I note that you worked with all four as part of the Saturday Night Live Band, for the popular American TV show. Was this something like session work?

A: Yes. The Saturday Night Live Band was known as the best gig that a musician in New York could secure - it is regular work, but also allows time to pursue one's own projects. Tom was also musical director there for a time,  Leon later appeared on my “Cleo” CD, I worked there from 1979 for six seasons.

Q: What videos and CDs did you appear on during your time there ?

A: No videos, but a CD was released some time later - "Saturday Night Live" [BMG/Arista 28435] (1991)


Q: After that you played with Simon and Garfunkel on their reunion tour, but a while later there came  the solo CD "Cleo"  [Four Leaf Clover  FLC-CD 5097] (1987).

A: Not immediately one after the other, but yes, in that order. On the Simon & Garfunkel tour I played with Fred Lipsius, he was also in the line-up.

Q: During the interim years, though,  the first “Blues Brother” film was released, followed by the band actually performing in its own right. On their "Red White And Blues" CD [WEA 9031-77284-2] (1992) you play on Lou Marini’s composition "You Got The Bucks".  I was going to ask if you pitched to them, but perhaps a better question would be besides BS&T, what other groups did you pitch to at the time - & since ?

A: None that I recall. It seems that my focus has moved away from group activities.

Q: During 1996 you formed a recording partnership with Doug Katsaros?   It is certainly one of the best albums I have heard anywhere in absolutely ages.

A: Thanks, yes, we released "Left Turn From The Right Lane"  [BMG  74321 49830 2]    (1997).  This was released under the name GeWaDoKa, a joining of our abbreviated names, but the marketing suffered.  Anyway, this is to be re-released under our own names, remaining on the BMG label, to take care of that.

Q: :  I know you put out an early album, while still a student, as part of a band named “The Fuses”. Beyond this, the two editions of Made In Sweden, Solar Plexus, Blood Sweat and Tears, have you recorded as an established member of any  other bands?

A: Just that one “Saturday Night Live” album

1999 and Beyond

Q: Will there be more CDs from the partnership with Doug Katsaros?

A: Doug is musical director of the "Footloose" theatrical production in New York at the moment, so he is very involved with that. No commitments, but later on, it is open.

Q: Any return to USA planned ?

A: I have divided my time between the USA and Sweden for some years now. The balance is according to what the needs and opportunities are at the time, of course.

Q: I am open to correction, but have not been able to hear how are you are musically drawing in benefit from successes with Made in Sweden,  Solar Plexus,  BS&T,  into your subsequent solos now: Are you continuing compositional themes started in these former groups at all? Is there any consolidation plans?

A: In fact, this is something I am considering.

Q: When planning, a three-year outlook is a frequently used. What might the next three years hold for you ?

A: Of course,  things can always change, so don’t hold me to this! That having said, though, at this time I am considering the possibility of a commercial website and recording some more CDs. In terms of new music, I hope to be doing three or four albums, reflecting my love of variety. It is not all of them, but some ideas include one with a jazz quartet, perhaps something like "Go Go" by John Scofield [Verve 539979].  The most fluid idea of all, the one that could be changed a lot is perhaps starting out with a background of sound rather than music, with me soloing at the front of it all.

DC: Georg, all the best for the future. Many thanks for your time.

GW: You are welcome
Copyright 1999 David Callow

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