Palle Mikkelborg

b. 1941



Palle Mikkelborg is one of Denmark’s most influental and original jazz musicians. As a child, he received lessons in playing trumpet, but apart from that he is self-taught. He has been inspired by jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, George Russell and Gil Evans but also by composers such as Ravel, Messiaen and Charles Ives. 

Since the 1960s he has challenged the musical conventions with his personal trumpet playing, ambitious orchestrations and compositional crossover projects. Mikkelborg has his own both lyrical and dramatic style. A lot of his music has a very spacious character, which is also reflected in his use of unusual orchestrations and electronics. Furthermore, his compositions have a spiritual quality to them, as can be heard in Going to pieces without falling apart (2002) or My God and my All (1991).

Mikkelborg’s name is known far beyond Scandinavia, and his international co-operations include the famous Aura, written for and recorded with Miles Davis.
Critical Acclaim
...Palle Mikkelborg is one of most innovative and original jazz musicians in Denmark in history – Christian Munch-Hansen, Jazz Danmark

...Mikkelborg is a musician and a composer with great human and artistic range – Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium

...Only few has the ability as Mikkelborg to virtuously arrange subjects, improvised sections, and intermezzi in a blend so enchanting that we solely must admire the outer structural shape of the music – Peter H Larsen, Information


The Danish trumpeter and composer Palle Mikkelborg began playing the trumpet in his late teens and from as early as 1960 worked professionally in among other contexts the Danish Radio Big Band. For several periods he was the leader of the band and worked in this capacity as both a composer and arranger.

Through the 1960s and 1970s Palle Mikkelborg became a quite central figure in the progressive part of Danish jazz. He was for example a considerable driving force in configurations such as the Riel-Mikkelborg Quintet (along with the drummer Axel Riel), V8 and Entrance.

Inspired by among others the American trumpeter Miles Davis, Palle Mikkelborg began working in the 1970s and 1980s with electric instruments – electrically amplified trumpet, keyboards etc. His composing work often revolves around hard-to-define features such as musical time and timing,and the suite is a form he uses often and willingly. A good example is the work Aura from 1984 written for Miles Davis when the American trumpeter won the Léonie Sonning Music Prize. The work was registered in the official Cultural Canon of particularly significant musical works of the Danish Ministry of Culture.

Human openness, a yearning for the foreign, musical curiosity and an assured feeling for the sensory qualities of music have brought Palle Mikkelborg into contact with a number of musicians from a variety of cultures. This has led to collaborations across the more traditional genre boundar­ies. Examples of this are works like Going To Pieces Without Falling Apart for harp, violin and strings, To Read is to Dream, composed for the opening of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, and Red Dress Concert, created in collaboration with the Korean designer Aamu Song.

Palle Mikkelborg’s aesthetic approach can be described with some justification as Nordic. The music may include strong influences from jazz, fusion music and a number of ethnic inspirations. At the same time one clearly senses a fundamental musical inspiration from Carl Nielsen and a mental resonance with Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. In 2001 Palle Mikkelborg won the Nordic Council’s Music Prize for his artistic work. Hjarne Fessel 2014


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