A native of Sweden, Stefan came to the United States in 1984 to study at the University of North Texas (UNT) due to his association with former UNT professors Rich Matteson, Jack Peterson and Jim Riggs. Stefan spent six years at UNT earning bachelor's and master's degrees. While at UNT he became, for three years, a member of the well known One O'clock Lab Band, and received the "Outstanding Graduate Student in Jazz Studies Award" in 1991. During his last year as a UNT student, Stefan signed a three-year recording contract with Justice Records in Houston, Texas.
After graduation, Stefan lived in Denver, Colorado (1991-1994) and in Las Vegas, Nevada (1994-2002), where he fulfilled his duties as professor of music and coordinator of jazz studies at the University of Nevada. In 2002, Stefan joined the jazz faculty in the division of jazz studies at the University of North Texas, where he taught until 2014. While at UNT, Stefan had a great deal of success with his combo class by implementing a guest artist residency program and recording experience for the students, which resulted in four combo CD releases. He also established two student exchange programs between UNT's college of music and the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Conservatori Liceu in Barcelona, Spain. As an active recruiter for the UNT jazz piano area, his former student accomplishments include: first place winners of the Jacksonville Jazz Piano Competition and the Phillips Jazz Piano Competition in Pensacola; finalists in the All American Jazz Piano Competition and the Barry Harris Jazz Piano Competition; invitations to the Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead program at the Lincoln Center; recipients of the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award (sponsored by ASCAP) and the Yamaha Young Performing Artist award; numerous Down Beat student awards; keyboardist with famed Eminem; and various college teaching positions throughout the USA. He has also been part of the Stanford Jazz Workshop for eight years as a clinician and performer.
Beginning fall 2015, Stefan will be joining the jazz studies faculty at the University of Texas at Arlington as a visiting professor http://music.uta.edu/areasofstudy/index.php?t=p&performanceid=2. In addition to his teaching duties, Stefan stays very active as guest performer and Artist-in-Residence at concert venues, festivals, clubs, and universities worldwide. His extensive travel schedule has taken him both as a performer and educator throughout Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Scotland, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and the United States. His discography includes 72 recordings, with nine CD projects under his own leadership. He has been a recording artist for Justice Records, Cambria/Troppe Note Records and currently Bebyne http://www.bebyne.com/category/stefan-karlsson/
Since 1996, Stefan has been a member of the Eddie Gomez Trio and Quartet (including Jimmy Cobb, Billy Drummond, Billy Hart, Nasheet Waits, Ed Soph, Jeremy Steig, and Rodrigo Villanueva), frequently touring Asia, Mexico, South America, Europe and the United States. The group has recorded six CD projects. In addition to performing with the Eddie Gomez group, he has also had the opportunity to share the stage and recorded with such jazz greats as: Steve Gadd, Herb Ellis, Jim Ferguson, Lou Fischer, Carl Fontana, Tim Hagans, Steve Houghton, Javon Jackson, Clay Jenkins, Marc Johnson, Larry Koontz, Joe La Barbera, Rich Matteson, Red Mitchell, Dick Oatts, Rich Perry, Chris Potter, Dave Pietro, Rufus Reid, Jim Riggs, Marvin ‘Smitty” Smith, Duduka Da Fonseca, Lynn Seaton, Bob Sheppard, Alex Sipiagin, Ed Soph, Marvin Stamm, Jim White, Mike Pope, Magnus Broo, Tom Warrington, Jiggs Wigham, Li Xiaochuan, Eliot Zigmund, and many others.
A sample of appearances at international venues are: JZ Clubs and Festival (China), Blue Note Jazz Clubs (Fukyoka, Tokyo, and Osaka), Cotton Club (Tokyo, Japan), Mahidol University Jazz Festival (Thailand), New Morning Jazz Club (Paris, France), Fasching Jazz Club (Stockholm, Sweden), Terrassa Jazz Festival (Terrassa, Spain), Vierzen Jazz Festival (Vierzen, Germany), Terzo Festival Internazionale Isola D’Elba (Elba, Italy), Festival des Rencontres (Capbreton, France), Body and Soul Jazz Club (Tokyo, Japan), Star Eyes Jazz Club (Nagoya, Japan), Jazz Club Jambouree (Barcelona, Spain), Muroran Jazz Festival (Muroran, Japan), Edinburg Festival (Edinburg, Scotland), Royal Academy of Music (Stockholm, Sweden), Conservatori Liceu (Barcelona, Spain), Conservatory of Music in Shanghai (China), Contemporary Music Academy (Beijing, China), Contemporary Music Institute (Zhuhai, China), University of Adelaide (Australia), International Association for Jazz Educators conference (IAJE), Jazz Educators Network (JEN), and many others.
In addition, Stefan has performed with the Dallas, Fort Worth, and Richardson symphony orchestras (including as an accompanist for vocalists Patti Austin and Monica Mancini).
Further, as a composer, Stefan is currently a published composer with BUG MUSIC in Hollywood, California http://www.bmgchrysalis.com/. His original music is copyrighted through ASCAP http://www.ascap.com/. His music was featured in the 1994 movie releases "Sugar Hill" (featuring Wesley Snipes), "Twenty Bucks" (featuring Christopher Loyd), and the 1997 Independent film “Strays.” During the latter part of the 90’s, Stefan's music was frequently heard on the television series "Melrose Place," "Party of Five," “Wings” and "Homicide." His original compositions are also published in the European Real Book (Sher Music) http://www.shermusic.com/new/1883217245.shtml and the Colorado Cook Book.