Punkt 07 - Kristiansand, Norway - Day One, August 29, 2007
As Punkt continues to expand its musical horizons, so too does it move into new venues for late night listening. Frk. Larsen, as in 2006, is a night club, that becomes Punkt Club, with turntablist/soundscaper DJ Strangefruit (Pal Nyhus) featured every night.
New to the festival is Punkt Elope at Charlie's Bar, which showcases emerging improvising talent, and two performances at Kick, a larger venue that included a riveting performance by Norwegian Nu Jazz mainstay Nils Petter Molver and his group.
Molvær's group has become almost a supergroup of Norwegan Nu Jazz, each member a leader in his own right. Eivind Aarset has literally redefined the role of guitar through many collaborative projects and his own series of releasesthe latest, Sonic Codex, due for release in September, 2007 on Jazzland. Sampler Jan Bang, along with being the cofounder of Punkt, is in high demand as a producer, remix artist and live sampler, and collaborated, along with Erik Honoré and a host of other artists, for the first Punkt official release, Crime Scenes (Punkt Recordings, 2006). Turntablist DJ Strangefruit, in addition to much work with many artists, has his own recording out, alongside electronic experimenter Knut Sævik, as Mongolian Jet Set,. Drummer/beat programmer Rune Arnesen has worked, in addition to Molvær, with the remarkable oudist/singer Dhafer Youssef and Jazzland label owner/keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft.
As ever, Molvær's show began in darkness, with the unaccompanied trumpeter alone to develop melodies that were sampled by Bang and then fed back. As the group emerged and gradually coalesced into a propulsive techno rhythm, it became clear that the fundamental components remained the same while evolution was taking place as well. Aarset, though still creating textures that sound like anything but a guitar did, at times, play with more guitar-like (or, at least, recognizable as guitar) tones, delivering funk-like single-note patterns and chiming harmonic arpeggios. While Molvær continues to retain and expand the expressive, vocal-like texture that explores embrouchure in deeply personal ways, he is also developing a new, near-crying sound.
There are unequivocal roadmaps through Molvær's lengthy and continuous sets, yet there is a loose and improvisational aspect to them that, while anything but jazz by reductionist definition, still fits in the broader continuum. His lines are often simple yet evocative; but every now and then he delivers a melody that's surprisingly complex harmonically, making it clear that lessons learned in his early days with the Norwegian group Masqualero are still a part of who he is.
With the festival opening officially tomorrow at the Agder Theatre, Molvær's performance finished off a pre-festival evening that made clear Punkt's defiance of convention, and pursuit of the unexpected.