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bio

 

Mai Leisz (pronounced Lease) is a bassplayer and composer from the shadowland of the North: post-soviet country, Estonia, where she was born and raised. In 2010 she made the move to Sweden where she honed her craft as an electric bass player and composer. She started gaining wider exposure with her own jazz-fusion group MaiGroup as well as freelancing with different jazz bands and pop artists. 

Her tireless work ethic, melodic bass playing and versatility has raised her name among the world’s top musicians. Mai is hailed as a music chameleon, moving effortlessly from pop, folk and country to jazz and blues.

In June 2015 she had couple of days off touring and was busking in the old town Stockholm with a veteran singer-songwriter Doug Seegers, when one of her favorite musicians in the world, multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz - on tour with Jackson Browne - happened to walk by. He was very moved by what he saw and heard, took note of Mai’s distinctive Kraftsman bass and informed bass player Bob Glaub, who was also on the tour. The next day Mai was invited to sit in with Jackson and his band at Stockholm Waterfront and thus began a whirl-wind adventure for a girl, who started her life on an island, in a village of 250 people and who now found herself relocating to Los Angeles, recording, writing and touring with a two-time member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -David Crosby; performing with Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, Jim Keltner, Charles Lloyd, David Foster and Seal among others.

MaiGroup has released three albums: “Luv” (2013), “You” (2015) and the third album “Metamorphosis” was released in April 2019 featuring world renowned guests such as Bill Frisell, David Crosby, Charles Lloyd and Greg Leisz. 

Education

  • 2014-2017 The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden - Master’s degree - jazz, bass guitar

  • 2011-2014 The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden - Bachelor’s degree - jazz, bass guitar

  • 2010-2011 Skurups Folkhögskola, Sweden - jazz, bass guitar

  • 2007-2010 Georg Ots Tallinn Music School, Estonia - jazz, bass guitar

  • 1996-2004 Kuressaare Music School, Estonia - classical violin

Awards and honors

  • Nomination for Jazz Cat Newcomer award 2016 by Swedish Radio

  • Alice Babs Jazz scholarship 2016

  • The Royal Swedish Music Academy - national jazz scholarship 2015

  • The Royal College of Music in Stockholm - outstanding student award 2013

  • The Royal College of Music in Stockholm - outstanding student award 2012

  • Uno Naissoo Composition Contest - best instrumentalist 2010

  • Tartu Jazz - biggest surpriser award 2008

  • Alo Mattiisen Music Days - grand prix 2004

 
 
 
Mai is a melodic bass player, which makes her really unique. It’s a difficult style and requires an enormous amount of talent and musical knowledge. It’s not something you hear every day. Even within the narrow field of melodic bassists, Mai’s sound is unique and impressive.
— David Crosby
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tour

 

Both her proficieny as an instrumentalist on the electric bass guitar and her impressive compositional skills show a level of maturity far beyond her years. She is also very adept as an accompanist to singers and other instrumentalists, besides being a formidable soloist on a par with the best musicians I have encountered throughout my career. I have been particularly impressed by Mai’s ability to express emotion through her music while performing at such a high technical level.
— Greg Leisz
 

maigroup

 
Recording “Metamorphosis”. Groove Masters Studio, Santa Monica, CA. Photo by Alan Kozlowski.

Recording “Metamorphosis”. Groove Masters Studio, Santa Monica, CA. Photo by Alan Kozlowski.

Björn arkö

Björn Arkö is a saxophone player, composer and arranger based in Stockholm, Sweden.

His debut album ”Stating the Obvious” (2017) was very well received by the press.

Currently he is performing with Swedish singer Lisa Nilsson, Henrik Linder & The Cuddly Kittens to mention a few and Björn often visits Japan to perform with different constellations.

Recording “Metamorphosis”. Groove Masters Studio, Santa Monica, CA. Photo by Alan Kozlowski.

Recording “Metamorphosis”. Groove Masters Studio, Santa Monica, CA. Photo by Alan Kozlowski.

Simon berggren

Music came into Simon's life at an early stage, and the piano soon became his focus. After initially being exposed mainly to classical music, a fascination for improvisation arose. He attended music school for children and proceeded to music-oriented gymnasiumfolkhögskola and eventually the Royal academy of Music in Stockholm. As a composer and player, Simon gravitates towards a ‘pure’ harmonic and melodic structure, superimposed basic tonalities rather than altered scales, and slowly developing processes where ideas are established over time. Simon works with various acts, such as MaiGroup, Berggren–Michele–Salina, his solo piano project, Tullio Ricci and Jonathan Kreisberg’s band, etc.

“Metamorphosis” release concert. Jazzkaar Festival. Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Sven Tupits.

“Metamorphosis” release concert. Jazzkaar Festival.
Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Sven Tupits.

jonathan lundberg

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Jonathan began playing drums at the age of 13. Besides being a sideman/freelance musician, Jonathan has his own band, which he has released two records with, the latter distributed by Universal Music Japan and features David Garfield, Derek Sherinian, Hadrien Feraud amongst others.

In 2004 he participated and won the Carlos Vega Memorial Scholarship Drum Off in Musicians Institute, Los Angeles.

“Metamorphosis” release concert. Jazzkaar Festival.  Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Sven Tupits.

“Metamorphosis” release concert. Jazzkaar Festival.
Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Sven Tupits.

calle stålenbring

Calle (Carl) Stålenbring is a Swedish guitar player based in Stockholm. He comes from a westcoast/rock-upbringing and went on to study Jazz in 2007 at the Swedish Royal College of Music. Main influences include Pat Metheny, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Scott Henderson, Chick Corea and many more. Carl has been spending the last few years touring and playing with many different Swedish pop acts across different genres and is currently working with Swedish singer-virtuoso Molly Hammar. Also featured on MaiGroup drummer Jonathan Lundberg's album Iterations.

Mai is everything a band looks for in a bassist - melodic, technically proficient, innately talented, and hugely dedicated to her work. She’s had great success with her own band (MaiGroup) and has also collaborated with some legendary artists, including David Crosby. She’s released two outstanding studio albums which she wrote and produced herself. Her talent and drive are truly inspiring, even to a fifty-year veteran of the music business.
— Jackson Browne

EPK

MaiGroup. Groove Masters Studio, Santa Monica, CA. March 2019. Photo by Alan Kozlowski.

MaiGroup. Groove Masters Studio, Santa Monica, CA. March 2019. Photo by Alan Kozlowski.

MaiGroup is a modern jazz-fusion band led by bass player & composer Mai Leisz (pronounced as Lease). Born and raised on an island Saaremaa in Estonia, educated at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, she now lives the dream in Los Angeles and works with some of the biggest legends in the world today. She is mostly known as the bass player of two time member of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – David Crosby – from The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Mai’s music is very confessional and she focuses on communicating emotion through her songs. Her music is an introspective contemplation of life, love and a search for answers…  It’s about expanding heart and mind and exploring the depths of your own soul. It’s a journey from an emotional turmoil to a deep peace within.

MaiGroup members Björn Arkö (saxophone), Calle Stålenbring (guitar), Jonathan Lundberg (drums) and Simon Berggren (piano) are all very sought after musicians in their own right. They bring their vision and touch to the roots of Mai’s music and give it wings to fly. 

MaiGroup has released 3 albums: “Luv” (2013) and “You” (2015) and their latest album “Metamorphosis” was released in April 2019 featuring world renown artists such as Bill Frisell, David Crosby, Greg Leisz and Charles Lloyd. 

To say that Mai’s talents as a bass player are prodigious would be an understatement.
— Bob Glaub

Discography

 

2019

metamorphosis

MaiGroup’s third studio album Metamorphosis was recorded at Groove Masters Studio in Santa Monica, CA and it features world renown guest artists such as Bill Frisell, Charles Lloyd, David Crosby and Greg Leisz.

Co-produced with Mai’s husband, multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz - this album is an introspective contemplation of personal growth, changes, love and … love.

2015

YOU

The second studio album You from the Estonian/Swedish group MaiGroup is filled with music dedicated to the people who have inspired Mai - the composer, arranger and producer of all the compositions on the album.

You features multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Swedish jazz legend Håkan Broström on soprano saxophone and Wille Alin on drums.

2013

LUV

Luv is the debut album of Mai Leisz’s modern jazz fusion group MaiGroup. This album was the first big milestone in her artistic development and showcased her talents as a bass player, band leader, composer, arranger and producer.

10 compositions on this album are all “luv” songs to life.