Nils was born in Durban, South Africa, of Norwegian descent and grew up in the UK. He started playing the guitar at the age of ten; by the age of 16 he was appearing as a solo guitarist/singer in folk clubs. He left the folk scene behind, however, when at art school in the 1970s he was lent a record of The Quintet of The Hot Club of France. From then on it was a headlong rush towards mastering the art of acoustic swing, and besides Django Reinhardt other influences came into play, notably the genius of Eddie Lang, Oscar Aleman and George Van Eps.
He has been a professional guitarist since leaving art school, paying his dues mainly in the prestigious hotels of London’s West End, with residencies at The Ritz, The Dorchester and The Hilton, though frequently surfacing to do guest spots at festivals and clubs around Europe.
With his background in gipsy jazz he has had a long association with jazz fiddlers, notably the late and much-missed Johnny van Derrick. With Nigel Kennedy’s ‘Kool Klub’ he performed with YoYo Ma in Paris on the French Topical TV programme ‘Le Grand Echiquier’. More lately he has collaborated with Parisian violinist Daniel John Martin on a project with the dynamic Liverpudlian guitarist Gary Potter. With ‘The Hot Club of London’ featuring Gary and violinist Mike Piggott he has been a regular visitor to the Kaamos Jazz Festival in Finnish Lapland (Jazz under the Northern Lights) since the late 1990s.
For over 25 years he has been the regular guitarist with Czech clarinetist Jerry Senfluk’s ‘Capital Swing’, which originally featured the brilliant but sadly departed pianist Mick Pyne. They frequently broadcast on the BBC and have appeared in Jazz festivals all over Europe.
His involvement with internationally-renowned bass virtuoso Peter Ind, founder of Wave Records in the 1970s, resulted in the two of them collaborating on two albums featuring the duo: ‘Back to Back’ and ‘You And The Night And The Music’. Nils also put his interest in recording and sound restoration into good use when the Wave back-catalogue was remastered for release on CD. In 2009, on his own label, Nils released an album with his own quartet, ‘The Best Man’.
Singer and now broadcasting personality Clare Teal burst onto the scene in the late 1990s and Nils was instrumental in the release of her first CD ‘That’s The Way It Is’. Clare’s talent was quickly recognized and two other CDs followed; ‘Orsinos Songs’ and ‘The Road Less Travelled’.
In 1999 veteran crooner Bryan Ferry shook the music world with his award-winning CD ‘As Time Goes By’, a collection of 1920s and 1930s standards with which he was ably aided by Nils and the cream of the London jazz fraternity, giving the album an authenticity which set it apart from other rock stars’ forays into jazz and vintage standards that arose around that time. Nils stayed in Ferry’s band for 18 months, during which time they toured the album in Europe, the US and the Far East. A DVD was made of the band’s performance at Le Grand Rex in Paris in 2000.
Nils is currently playing guitar with The Adrian Cox Quartet as well as continuing his solo career. Having come from an artistic background (his father was a painter) he also indulges himself in his passion for art, and is a regular member of the Sussex Arts Club in Brighton.