Four images on Palle Mikkelborg and his music
By Anders Beyer
What is it about an artist that makes the surrounding world feel that it is essential to explore their universe? In those instances where works are of lasting importance, there are always openings to something more beyond the physical manifestation. A wise person once said that what is interesting about creative minds are the fields of energy that surround their work: Charles Ives was a transcendentalist, Miles Davis a game changer, Giacinto Scelsi a medium for the occult, Olivier Messiaen the one who combined art with deeply held religious beliefs, Duke Ellington a spokesman for the individual, John Cage the music philosopher of the twentieth century, Karlheinz Stockhausen the mentor and guest from planet Sirius, and Louis Armstrong the God-given natural talent.
Examples of personalities with a special aura surrounding their work can be found in all art forms. Everyone is made aware of its presence through the aesthetic and ideological space created by each artist. The genius inherent in the work of such artists is what we call conviction.
Palle Mikkelborg has just such a conviction to life and art. His conviction is before music, in music, after music; we only have to open our ears to hear it. I personally have a number of stellar memories of that moment when music opens itself to that which is beyond mere notes and sounds.
On October 15th 1990 Mikkelborg was recording with a young German trumpet player for Danish Radio. The musicians were working with the possibilities of certain thematic material. At one point the young colleague played theme in a very virile, ‘show-off’ version. Mikkelborg responded with the same theme, but in a new, welcoming garb, where we listeners were given a new insight marked by a feeling of reconciliation.
At such a moment, it is irrelevant to talk of theory or knowledge gained from books, or influences or dislikes. At such a moment, the experiences of life melt together, and the musical expression is much, much more than mere notes; the whole impression becomes a synthesis of everything Mikkelborg has absorbed – transformed through music into an expression of something experienced.
I was convinced very early on that Mikkelborg is always searching for beauty, but at the same time wants to create something never heard before. Sound, melody, tonality and timing are important elements in Mikkelborg’s music and, collectively, the various areas serve the main goal of seeking beauty in the broadest sense of the word.
The artist paints an impression of someone on a never-ending journey. Once Mikkelborg said to me: ”My personal sound and my ideas for concerts are naturally inspired by my deep interest in spiritual matters. I have never had a musical ambition in my life, only a spiritual one. My life-long journey in music and its magic has only ever had one aim: to find my own peace of mind.”
Long sustained notes, vibrating soundscapes and echoes of the past are not only a result of Mikkelborg’s interest in sound in the broadest sense, there is more behind the surface. Sometimes the music is reminiscent of the tonal world of New Age, but this genre is too limited to capture the essence and ambition of Palle Mikkelborg.
The music of Mikkelborg is always open, there is never a decisive power or a manifest attitude in the music. Listen for example to the CDs Hommage. Once Upon A Time (Sonet SLPCD 1662) and Song …. Tread lightly (Columbia COL 498202 2). Here you can find it all: broad surfaces with soundscapes that could last for ever, but also insistent funk, pulsing rock-pop or whatever you might call it, big band, electronic manipulated sounds, etc.
Mikkelborg’s music opens up the way for unrestrained digressions; free-wheeling musical thought, rhapsodic interludes around a golden middle way – but it’s never reckless or totally uncontrolled. The superior ideal of beauty would never allow that. Palle Mikkelborg is an aesthete. His trademark white silk scarf is an outward sign of a sense of the refined, of the beautiful, and yet also of that which no self-respecting artist would ever forget – affectation.
To be a composer in the traditional sense of the word has something to do with control. Control over the material and control over the performance is inherent in the way the music is written. Yet even though Palle Mikkelborg creates definite frames and points his music in certain decided directions, he sees it as a necessity that the music also lives its own independent life. It could be said that he is more of a designer than a composer. This flows out of everything Mikkelborg does. Listen to CD Aura (1989), written for Miles Davis when he received the Léonie Sonning Music Prize in Copenhagen 1984. In the movement Orange the music is designed in certain patterns and also contains apocryphal messages and references to previous prize-winners (both living and dead).
It is this – and much more – that makes Mikkelborg’s music so alluring. It is secretive yet never fully reveals its secrets. There are always unanswered questions in Mikkelborg’s art. But his music is also open to the listener’s own interpretations – of colours, of feelings, of forms and figures, of spirituality. Palle Mikkelborg designs possible frames for existence. Just like any other reflective person, Mikkelborg must have asked himself the questions “Who am I?”, “Where do I come from?”, “What are my reference points both as a musician and as a human being?”
Palle Mikkelborg is self-taught and, like many prominent artists, he draws inspiration from both musical and other sources – ‘trials’ that have given insights into people and the culture that surrounds them. It is the experience of life which infects their art. As an artist, Mikkelborg is like a piece of blotting paper, absorbing influences from near and far.
Mikkelborg’s relationship with the classical tradition is underestimated because his music is always interpreted as coming from other sources of inspiration. In Denmark we don’t have such obvious folk music traditions as in the other Scandinavian countries – and yet I would describe Palle Mikkelborg as both a Danish and a Nordic composer.
There are composers who say that they are inspired by Danish lyricism and the folk-like quality of the songs of Carl Nielsen, and there are composers who show this inspiration in their music. When Palle Mikkelborg received the prestigious Carl Nielsen prize in 1999, he gave thanks for the honour with a performance that showed just how much he stands in debt to the Danish tradition that has its roots in the classicism of Carl Nielsen. Similarly, one can cite Norwegian Jan Garbarek’s debt to the nature romanticism of Edward Grieg.
Palle Mikkelborg is both Danish and Nordic in his relationship with time. Time and timing play definitive roles in his music. Mikkelborg waits, listens, becomes a part of, finds the essential notes and phrases that open up to new worlds. As the artist explains:
”I was thinking a lot about the Danish and Nordic expression and mentality when I began to play with musicians from all over the world. Many of them were Americans. I noticed that we have something in common and something that – positively speaking – divides us. I started to talk with the various musicians about this. I worked with Dexter Gordon, we made a record together. We talked about the milieus that we have learnt so much from. What was happening at the time when Parker and Dizzy played? Donna Lee and this kind of music – why was it possible exactly at this time? I realised that the black music was social music. It was the only way that black people could make their voices heard?: either sport or showbiz. Charlie Parker was very interested in Bartók’s string quartets. But social circumstances prevented these people from having a free choice as to whether they wanted to be lawyers or school teachers. The other thing was that they were beaten all the time. In short: The black music has a totally other origin and energy than Danish music.”
”For black musicians it was not only a question of being active as an artist, it was also a question about having something exclusively belonging to the black community. It was a social statement and a conscious attitude among black musicians: ’This is our music’. No-one else could play the music at that time. This music was also mirroring the American thinking, and the tempo was something essential in American culture.”
Palle Mikkelborg is not a jazz musician in the traditional sense, despite his use of freedom and improvisation; he does not have the ‘sound’ of the Baptist church or Fifth Avenue as a social or musical background, but rather Carl Nielsen, H.C. Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard in his mental suitcase. He has taken great pleasure in being a ‘guest’ in different milieus along the way.
At a certain point in time, the standard repertoire became a little too restricted for him and new challenges were calling: conductor of the Danish Radio Big Band and the Danish Radio Jazz Group, arranger, composer (listen to Mysterious Corona (1967) with the Danish Radio Jazz Group supplemented with wind quintet and string quartet). Inspiration and experience gained from different aesthetic collaborations resound further in Mikkelborg’s universe. (Be convinced by listening to More Than You Know (1975) with Dexter Gordon and orchestra, Entrance (1977), Live as Well (1978), and Palle Mikkelborg: Journey To… (1984).
Where do I come from? Why did I end up right here? Mikkelborg is self-taught and like many other great artists he has worked in many areas of society. Philip Glass drove taxis in New York, Karlheinz Stockhausen played as bar pianist in Cologne, Per Nørgård made cartoons in Copenhagen, Palle Mikkelborg did modelling with Kaus. Kaus???
”In my childhood I did modelling, and in all modesty I was pretty good at it. The wonderful feeling I got from sitting in the ’bubble’ modelling is identical to the sense of calm, happiness and stillness I reached later in life – and which I can feel today when I write my music. One day when I was seven years old, I was offered the job of representing a new product in Magasin du Nord. During the whole month of December, I was given the opportunity to make models with a new clay product called Kaus. This was my first connection with what you might call showbiz. At the same time I had the music: I played harmonica, my mother had a violin. I had a certain feeling that music was my domain without knowing which instrument I should play.”
Not far from Palle’s home lived Mr. Ludvigsen who had a small chocolate shop. Ludvigsen, who also played trumpet in Cirkus Schuman, had a son whom Palle played with. In the back shop lay Ludvigsen’s trumpet. Ludvigsen could see that Palle and the trumpet got on so well so quickly that he asked Palle’s parents to buy a trumpet for the boy:
”At the publisher Edition Wilhelm Hansen I bought the well-known trumpet tutors Arban and Schlossberg. I saved up to buy a better instrument. The old King was replaced by a new Olds. My later sound aims were realised with my three faithful Martin trumpets, with which I still have a creative dialogue.”
Palle Mikkelborg began playing with friends in the neighbourhood and soon his first compositions saw the light of day. At 16, he joined Bent Ronak’s Big Band, and then went on to play at the artists’ mekka, Vingården on Nikolay Square, in Finn Mickelborg’s band. When the Radio Jazz Group was established at the beginning of the sixties the 20-year-old Mikkelborg was part of it. And when Ib Glindeman started the New Radio Dance Orchestra (later the Danish Radio Big Band), Mikkelborg was part of it also.
”It was in these very favourable conditions I learned to play. While several of my friends and colleagues went the Music Academy way, I chose the ’hard’ life of the professional musician. As one of what Stefan Zweig called ’star moments’ I remember my encounter with Miles Davis’ version of When Lights Are Low. Suddenly I understood where I belonged in terms of sound. The experience of the instrument so close to the human voice enthralled me and has been my sound ideal ever since – of course alongside my pleasure in listening to Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Booker Little, Dizzy, Armstrong …”
It goes without saying that Miles’ and Gil Evans’ masterpieces Sketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess were crucial to Mikkelborg as his interest in composing grew. And speaking of star moments, it’s very relevant to mention Ives’ The Unanswered Question, Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony, Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloë. These works made an indelible impression on Mikkelborg.
Through his work with Danish Radio, Mikkelborg had the chance to attend rehearsals with the National Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra. His budding conducting work was given extra nourishment by being at rehearsals with conductors like Sergiu Celibidache. In addition, he heard a lot of new music, since he was regular subscriber in those years to the so-called Thursday Concerts:
”When I think of the many experiences, those that stick in the mind are Per Nørgård’s Third Symphony, Penderecki’s Luke Passion, Axel Borup-Jørgensen’s Marin and of course Celibidache’s enchanting interpretations of Ravel and Debussy.”
With some artists one has the feeling that they have played their instrument in an earlier life. Mikkelborg is just such a phenomenon– he must have played the trumpet in an earlier life! The young artist quickly became a sought-after musician, and he played with Allan Botchinsky, Ib Glindemann, Lasse Golin, Ole Molin, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Torolf Mølgaard, Jesper Thilo and many more. The sources of inspiration came from such diverse artists as Gil Evans, Charles Ives, Claude Debussy. The title of this period could be ”Sketches of Spain meets Ives’ Fourth Symphony”.
With his ability to unconsciously pre-empt the future, the spirit of the times is suddenly seized by new possibilities and an area is radically changed. It is this ability to give a new direction to certain areas that puts some artists in a class of their own. Mikkelborg is no exception – he has set new ideas in motion.
Mikkelborg’s art crosses a bridge between humanity and nature. He has allowed himself to be captured by his instrument’s ability to imitate the human voice and the sounds of nature. The airy, atmospheric tone and that special closeness created by the use of the mute are the unmistakable sounds of Mikkelborg’s universe.
The interest and pleasure in the human voice can be heard on the CD A Noone of Night (1999), with texts by various authors. The harp can also be heard in this musical tapestry of voices – an instrument which has come to play an important role in Mikkelborg’s instrumentation and in his performance groups.
The meetings with Palle Mikkelborg are memorable, because the artist reminds me with insistent amiability that I can’t make use of what I learned in school when we are talking. The writer’s acquired notions about the history of music, tradition, theory and aesthetics hardly seem useful tools for opening a good conversation with Mikkelborg. One of his sayings, borrowed from William Blake, is not unexpectedly “Thank God I never was sent to school / To be flogged into following the style of a fool”.
On the whole, descriptive words on paper are felt to be far too up-front compared with artistic ambition. There is always something ’else’ at play. If you press the man hard he will say that his only wish is ”Peace in Mind” – and that’s what you can think of.
One possible approach to the artist’s personal universe is through his choice of texts for the music. In the work A Noone of Night for choir and two harps, the composer uses texts by St. Francis of Assisi, William Blake, Zen poems, anonymous texts and poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. Here, as in other works, it seems reasonable to talk about beautiful and beauty-seeking music. But is the beautiful only the prelude to the terrible, as Rilke says in the Duino Elegies? Mikkelborg answers:
“I did not want to activate the destructive side in me. I could have chosen self-destructive in the service of art, as so many have done: Parker, Picasso, Stravinsky, Miles, Kafka, Welles – you name it. Unlike them, I didn’t want to to be torn apart in the tension between the spirit and life as it is lived; but I recognize that the schizophrenia of the artistic life is a necessity. To avoid falling apart as a human being I have instead sought the spiritual – I hope my music reflects this seeking. Being on one’s way towards a better state also means freeing oneself from traditions – systems are the unquantifiable complementary colour, since I think we think in colours.”
I don’t think that was really an answer to my question, but it was an answer with thought-provoking elements. I am all too aware that one doesn’t prepare for a meeting with Mikkelborg by studying sophistical models of thought: Mikkelborg and intellectual constructs is as impossible a combination as a watchmaker in mittens. You can’t repair a watch with mittens, and you can’t talk to Mikkelborg as a journalist or commonsensical pundit.
I think that Mikkelborg’s approach to William Blake’s visionary poetry, for example, is due to an ’attraction’ (a word often used by Mikkelborg) to what seems ’ordinary’ or ‘innocent’ on the surface; through simplicity he opens up a view of the universal. This tension forms a paradox in Mikkelborg’s choice of texts, since the ordinary is transcended and space is created for something different, something more. What this something is, can best be felt as a kind of sensual presence in the encounter with the work of art, in which we can reflect ourselves to recognize sides of our own world of feelings and intuitions. In this meeting with the music/text, with its sometimes almost monotonous repetitions, the work of art opens up a fissure for self-reflection and to a ‘here-and-now world’, and it becomes relevant because in reality it is about me and my world. The best works for me are the works where I find something from my own world. Perhaps I want confirmation; but not only that – I also want to be taken somewhere I had not expected to see myself. I want to be guided and beguiled.
I have no name
I am but two days old.
What shall I call thee?
I happy am
Joy is my name,
Sweet joy befall thee!
Sweet joy but two days old.
Sweet joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile.
I sing the while
Sweet joy befall thee.
Thus ‘Infant Joy’ by Blake. Through the simple formation shines the universally human; each infant understands intuitively how to live itself into this situation, which the adult, with the weight of experience, has to work to establish anew. Mikkelborg senses this spiritual climate, and out of this sensing grows a unique musical prose. In this expressive world it makes no sense to talk about complexity as against simplicity, or tradition as against avant-gardism: the composer has quite simply written himself into a mood and thus reached beyond intellectual thought formations. The image-evoking musical language is the result of the placing of the notes. But what are the underlying thoughts?
“I have been preoccupied with the way different idioms make an impression on me: not what it is, but that it is: Per Nørgård’s Third Symphony, the Renaissance Man’s ability to think in totalities, Frank Sinatra’s brilliant creations. With my work I want to remind people that there are oases of silence and calm. We must protect the part of spiritual life that Blake describes in his poetry. The role of art is to raise our moral level. We must point out that there is a spiritual dimension, as expressed in the Zen poem I used: “My Child: There is no End”.
Mikkelborg’s music is human in the sense that it calls for an interpreter, the musician, who can and dares engage themself wholly and fully and the listener who dares break free and allow themself to be carried along. The music has to be interpreted and lived in and absorbed in the mental apparatus.
Mikkelborg talks about the Celtic universe – the light – which has quite a special attraction. The ancient rites and myths and musical ideas are something quite present for Mikkelborg. At the deepest level, the last conversation with Mikkelborg is mainly about fundamental questions about existing as a human being – about our way of living life. I think of John Cage’s sentence: “I am not interested in my art, I am interested in living.” Thought-provoking, and perhaps not so far from Mikkelborg’s view of life.
The conversation is ebbing. I can’t resist giving Mikkelborg a poem by Blake on the way out the door, to prepare the way for a new meeting with the man who prefers to be called neither artist nor composer.
He who binds to himself a joy,
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
© Anders Beyer 2000
Photos in this article: Stella Nova, Gorm Valentin, Per Morten Abrahamsen.
Graphic in the opening image: Denise Burt.
For a Danish version please click here
FACTS ON PALLE MIKKELBORG
Palle Mikkelborg took up the trumpet in the 1950s and established himself as a professional musician when he became a member of the Danish Radio Big Band and the Danish Radio Jazz Group in the 60s. He developed his talents as composer and arranger when he was the leader of these bands during the 70s, as well as becoming a skilled interpreter of the works of other musicians.
Palle Mikkelborg´s growing reputation throughout the 80s led to worldwide tours and many recordings, with musicians such as Gil Evans, Bill Evans, George Russell, Terje Rypdal, Trilok Gurtu, Dino Saluzzi, Abdullah Ibrahim, Hermeto Pascoal, L. Shankar and Jan Garbarek. He also formed his own leading groups – V8, Entrance and Journey To…, and was a member of the highly successful trio Heart to Heart.
A highlight in his career was his collaboration with Miles Davis. In 1984 Miles Davis received the prestigious Léonie Sonning Music Prize and Palle Mikkelborg was commissioned to write a piece which he called AURA for the event. This later resulted in Miles Davis returning to Copenhagen to record AURA for CD. It was released in 1989, and received two Grammy awards in 1990.
Prizes and awards
- Danish jazz musician of the year – 1968
- The Lange-Müller Prize – 1976
- Danish Conductor Association’s Prize of Honour – 1977
- Danish Musicians’ Union’s Prize of Honour- 1987
- The Niels Prize – 1987 (as member of the Heart to Heart Trio)
- The LO Cultural Prize – 1991
- Danish Conductor Association’s Travel Scholarship – 1991
- AURA: Nominated for the Nordic Council’s Music Prize – 1989
- Received 2 Grammy Awards – 1990
- Voted: No 2 Jazz album of the year – by critics in Down Beat Magazine – 1990
- No 1 Jazz album of the year – by the readers of Down Beat Magazine – 1990-91
- ANYTHING BUT GREY – Nominated for the Best Danish Jazz Release – 1992
- Received a Danish Grammy Award – 1993
- The Wilhelm Hansen Composer’s Prize 1997
- The Carl Nielsen and Anne Marie Carl Nielsen Award 1999
- The Nordic Council’s Music Prize 2000
- Knight of the Order of Dannebrog
- The Mysterious Corona – String Quartet, Woodwinds, soloists and Rhythm Group (1967)
- Tempus – Big Band and solo Group (1968)
- Te Faru – Big Band (1969)
- Concerto for Trombone and Ensemble – Solo Trombone, Strings, Woodwinds and Rhythm Group (1970)
- Mess-Ra – Big Band and solo group (1971)
- Louisiana Suite – Big Band and Solo Group (1972) (1999/2000).
- Mayas Slør (Maya’s Veil) – Symphony Orchestra, Big Band, Soloists, Recitation (1973)
- KMO – Symphony Orchestra and Big Band (1974)
- The Metal World – Symphony Orchestra and Solo Group (1975)
- Cyclus 76 – Big Band (1976)
- Juliskitser (July Sketches) – Symphony Orchestra and Percussion (1978)
- Rejsen mod (The Journey to) – Symphony Orchestra and Solo Group (1978)
- Heptagon – String Quartet, Woodwinds, Brass and Rhythm Group (1978)
- December Cyclus (December Cycle) – Choir, Big Band and Woodwinds (1980)
- Breve (Letters) – Strings, Woodwind, Percussion, Brass and Rhythm Group (1981)
- Dis – Flute and Percussion (1981)
- A Simple Prayer – Choir, Gamelan Ensemble and Solo Group (1981)
- So Many Come, So Many Go – Symphony Orchestra, Big Band and Solo Group (1982)
- Billeder (Pictures) – Symphony Orchestra, Piano, Brass and Solo Group (1983, revised version 1988)
- Aura (dedicated to Miles Davis) – Big Band, Solo- and Rhythm Group (1984)
- Alt er betydningsfuldt – Erik Bruhn in Memoriam (Everything has a Purpose), dedicated to Duo Concertante (1987) – Recorded version: EMI 7496792
- Grotteværk (Grotto Rococo), dedicated to Trio Rococo (1988
- Saga – Cello, Harp, Trumpet and Synthesizers (1990 – 91)
- Tic-Tac, Recorder/tape (1995), dedicated to Poul Høxbro
- Drifting In-Drifting Out – Various Musicians (1995)
- Soundscape – 1000 DK Musicians (1995)
- Pro et Kontra – Trpt/Arpa/ Str. 4tet (1996-97)
- My God And My All – Choir, Cello and Harp (1991, rev.
- A Moone of Light – Symph. orch. and selected soloists (1997/98)
- A Noone of Night – Choir and harps (1999)
Selective list of recordings
- With the Radio Jazz Group: The Mysterious Corona (Debut SDEB 150 – 1967)
- With the Danish Radio Big Band: Brownsville Trolley Line/Tempus Incertum Remanet (Sonet SLPS 1520 – 1969)
- Palle Mikkelborg: Ashoka Suite (Metronome MLP 15374 – 1970)
- With Peter Herbolzheimer: My Kind of Sunshine (MPS 2121331-5 – 1971)
- With Ed Thigpen; Action Re-action (Sonet SLP 2558 – 1973)
- With Karin Krog: You Must Believe in Spring Polydor 2382044-1974) (CD Meantime Records MR 5 1993)
- With Philip Catherine: September Man (Atlantic 40562 – 1974)
- With Herb Geller: An American in Hamburg (DX 628332 – 1975)
- Dexter Gordon & Orchestra arranged and conducted by Palle Mikkelborg: More Than You Know (Steeple Chase SCS-1030 – 1975)
- With Edward Vesale: Satu (ECM 1088 – 1977)
- With Entrance: Entrance (Metronome MPL 15612 – 1977) (Exlibris EXLCD 50018)
- With Entrance: Live as Well (Metronome MPL 15631 – 1978) (Exlibris EXLCD 50018 )
- With George Gruntz: The George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band (MPS 1533 – 1978)
- With George Guntz: Trumpet Machine (MPS 1503 1978)
- With Terje Rypdal: Waves (ECM 1110-1978)
- With Terje Rypdal: Descendre (ECM 1144 – 1979)
- With Entrance: Palle Mikkelborg’s Journey To (Metronome MLP 15826 – 1984) (Exlibris EXLCD 50020)
- With L. Shankar and Jan Garbarek: Visions (ECM 1226 – 1984)
- With Dino Saluzzi: Once Upon A Time – Far Away In The South (ECM 1309 – 1986)
- With Kenneth Knudsen & Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen: Mikkelborg – Knudsen –N.H.Ø.P. Heart To Heart (Storyville SLP 4114 – 198)
- With Gary Peacock: Guatama. (ECM 1352 – 1987)
- With Miles Davis: Aura (CBS 463351 – 1989)
- With N.H.Ø.P.: Hommage (Sonet SLPCD 1662 – 1990)
- Palle Mikkelborg: ANYTHING BUT GREY (Columbia 471614 2 – 1992)
- Soundscape (Promusic 9505 – 1995)
- The Garden is a Woman (Replay – 1997)
- A Noone of Night (dacapo – 1999)
- Song… Tread Lightly (Col 498202 – 2/2000)
- Aura (Columbia CK 63902 – 2000)
Producing and playing
- Lennart Åberg: Green Prints (CAP 1276 – 1986)
- Bo Stief: Hidden Frontiers (Replay RELP 3505 -1987)
- Bjarne Roupé: Passion Play (Stunt STUCD 18801 – 1988)
- Ars Nova Vocal Group
- (Kontrapunkt 32001 – 1986)
- (Kontrapunkt 32003 – 1987)
- (Kontrapunkt 32016 – 1988)
- Ars Nova Vocal Group. Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (dacapo – 1997)
- A Drummers Tale. Per Nørgård (dacapo – 1998). In collaboration with Gert Sørensen
- A Drummers Tale. Poul Ruders (dacapo – 1999). In collaboration with Gert Sørensen)
- A Noone of Night (dacapo – 1999)
- Open The Door Softly. Helen Davies (Exlibris – 2000)
- Own Groups
- The Riel-Mikkelborg Quintet
- The Riel-Mikkelborg V8
- Journey To …
- Palle Mikkelborg Trio/Duo
- Palle Mikkelborg: Song… Tread Lightly Group