b. Ulf Karl Erik Wakenius, 16 April 1958, Halmstad, Sweden. Raised in Gothenburg, Wakenius played guitar from early childhood. At first self-taught, he later studied at Gothenburg Conservatoire. Initially, his interest lay in contemporary blues but he later moved into jazz. By his late teens he was already known as a session musician and in the mid- and late 70s he was with the Swedish bands Sundance and Mwendo Dawa. Later, he toured Europe and in the early 80s he and fellow guitarist Peter Almqvist formed Guitars Unlimited, recording Introducing Guitars Unlimited Duo (1983) and Acoustic Shokk (1985). Wakenius also recorded with Svend Asmussen and visited South America, playing concerts and recording. In these years, he also began working with bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, establishing a strong working relationship that lasted until Ørsted Pedersen’s death in 2005. In the early 90s, Wakenius was a member of Graffiti with drummer Dennis Chambers, bass player Gary Grainger and keyboard player Haakon Graf, recording 1992’s Graffiti Good Groove. Among many other jazz musicians with whom Wakenius has worked and sometimes recorded are Lars Danielsson, Chris Minh Doky, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Jim Hall, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Joe Henderson, Milt Jackson, Michel Legrand, James Moody, Max Roach, Clark Terry and Toots Thielemans.
Wakenius has also led his own bands, notably a strong group, including Chris Minh and his brother Niels Lan Doky, Randy Brecker, Danielsson, Bob Berg and Bill Evans, and DeJohnette, that was recorded in 1991 by L+R Records. He also led the Stellar Quintet, which included Michael Brecker and Ray Brown, and began working with Brown, including recording Seven Steps To Heaven (1995) andSummertime (1997). In 1997, Wakenius joined Peterson’s quartet, touring internationally with the pianist and appearing on the following year’s A Summer Night In Munich. This particular edition of the pianist’s group also included Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Martin Drew.