Born in Lillehammer in 1970, Young was introduced to jazz by his American father. At the age of 12 he took up the guitar and was, initially, self-taught on the instrument. After studying music at the University of Oslo, he received a scholarship to the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan. His years there were devoted to learning the standard jazz repertoire as a starting point for a broader understanding of improvised harmonic music. Young’s principal teacher was the great guitarist Jim Hall, Jacob’s warm, glowing, rounded tone acknowledges the influence, with whom he studied both privately and in ensemble settings. He also took lessons with John Abercrombie, who later praised his “great playing in and out of the tradition”, and studied jazz composition with Richie Beirach, Bob Belden and Ken Werner. After attaining his degree in 1993, Young freelanced around New York for two years playing with, amongst others, Rashied Ali, Marc Copeland, Arnie Lawrence, Junior Mance and Larry Goldings.
His recording debut as a leader came in 1994 with this stellar group of talented young musicians; Nils Petter Molvær, Larry Goldings, Bendik Hofseth, Terje Gewelt and Per Oddvar Johansen. He starter to play festivals and small tours in Norway.
After returning from New York City to live in Oslo, Norway in 1996 he formed a quintet with Trygve Seim, Vigleik Storaas, Mats Eilertsen and Per Oddvar Johansen and recorded his second album “Pieces of Time” for the Curling Legs label.
Around this time legendary Norwegian jazz singer Karin Krog contacted Jacob after hearing him play on the radio. The two started a collaboration together, which includes the John Surman produced album “Where Flamingos Fly” from 2001 and regular touring all over the world for several years as a duo. In 2002 he was booked by the Kongsberg Jazzfestival with a quintet to do a concert with original material, this was the start of the Jacob Young Group, his main focus to this day.
Jacob has played guitar as a sideman on and off with artists such as Bendik Hofseth, Jan Erik Vold, Knut Riisnæs, Sidiki Camara, Bugge Wesseltoft, Karin Krog, Trygve Seim, The Source, Manu Katche, Allessandro Galati and the jazz/rock trio Interstatic co-led with Roy Powell and Jarle Vespestad.
In 2017 he started the local, modern jazz music label , Oslo Session Recordings, in collaboration with old friends. The label focuses on releases in the 180 grams Vinyl format - in limited editions - as a free venue for Jacob's sideman projects outside the ECM basis. The first release "The Maze" featured an all-star group consisting of a mix of new and old collaborators. Mike Mainieri, the legendary founder of Steps Ahead on vibes, Paolo Vinaccia on drums, Mats Eilertsen on bass and Bendik Hofseth on saxophone.
The label's second release "Rathkes gate 12:21:58" came out in Norway in August 2017 and features a trio with Jacob Young, Paolo Vinaccia & Bendik Hofseth and features original music by all three musicians.
Jacob has also started a new duo with talented Norwegian singer Siril Malmedal Hauge. Together they are working on material for a recording with both standards from the pop and jazz world, as well as originals.