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Live Reviews

Scene Norway 2 at King's Place

By Published: December 13, 2013
While not technically part of Talkington's Scene Norway 2 series, a late evening performance in Hall Two by Loop Collective became an adjunct to the series for its inclusion of guest Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus. Westerhus has, for the past couple years, been a member of Molvær's trio—he also produced the sole Molvær album on which he appears, Baboon Moon—but left the trio earlier this year to focus on his burgeoning solo career, defined by superb recordings like Pitch Black Star Spangled (Rune Grammofon, 2010) and The Matriarch and the Wrong Kind of Flowers (Rune Grammofon, 2012); his collaboration with Jaga Jazzist
Jaga Jazzist
Jaga Jazzist

keyboardist Øystein Moen in Puma (last heard in 2010 on the Rune Grammofon release, Half Nelson Courtship); and his ongoing duo with singer Sidsel Endresen, heard on their sole release to date, the marvelous Didymoi Dreams (Rune Grammofon, 2012).

Westerhus' primary focus, at the moment, is his new group Pale Horses (with Moen and fellow ex-Molvær trio mate, drummer Erland Dahlen), and based on the trio's premiere performance at the 2013 Molde Jazz Festival, the word is still out on how well this move into more defined rock territory will succeed, but meanwhile, in his guest appearance with Loop Collective, Westerhus demonstrated everything that has resulted in his rapid emergence as a guitarist of significance, specifically his total rejection of orthodoxy, after five years of study in London, creating a wall of sound built upon extended techniques, high volume amplification and an almost unbelievable command of a massive array of guitars effects that are, rather than simply add-ons, true extensions of Westerhus' uncompromising explorations of his instrument's potential—amd while it might seem paradoxical, he's proven himself as capable of great beauty as he has greater extremes.

All of this taking place within the context of Loop Collective's big band, Cat's Cradle—a sometimes seventeen-piece group whittled down from its core nonet to a septet for this show, performing music that seamlessly blended clearly composed music with unfettered free play. Back were Bonney and Tremblay from the afternoon's Waffle Hearts event, alongside keyboardist Dan Nicholls
Dan Nicholls
Dan Nicholls
, double bassist Dave Mannington, drummer Dave Smith, vibraphonist Jim Hart
Jim Hart
Jim Hart

and saxophonist/clarinetist Robin Fincker, with Fringe Magnetic trumpeter Rory Simmons and Outhouse saxophonist Tomas Challenger
Tomas Challenger
sax, tenor
missing in action. It was an exhilarating set that was just one part of the Loop Collective Night that took place both before, concurrent with and after Scene Norway 2's evening double bill.

Sunday, November 17: Not So Silent Movies w/ Guests Nils Petter Molvær & Jan Bang / Sidsel Endresen with Philip Jeck

For Scene Norway 2's final day, Talkington chose to tie her series into two regular events at King's Place. First up was Not So Silent Movies, an afternoon series where cellist Philip Sheppard brings together various groups of musicians to perform soundtracks to silent films...but with a significant difference: the performances are freely improvised, and the only musician onstage who knows what the films will be before they begin to roll is Sheppard; the rest know absolutely nothing.

For this incarnation of Not So Silent Movies, Sheppard brought together a group of British musicians including violinist Elspeth Hanson, clarinetist Pete Furniss, electric bassist Mark Neary and drummer Hami. For the Scene Norway 2 connection, two Norwegian artists were invited: artist-in-residence Molvær and live sampler Jan Bang. It was an inspired choice, as both Molvær and Bang have previous experience scoring films—Bang, most recently on the soundtrack to Knut Hamsun's Victoria (Jazzland, 2013), a collaboration with fellow Punkt Artistic Director Erik Honoré, trumpeter Arve Henriksen
Arve Henriksen
Arve Henriksen
and orchestrator Gaute Storaas; and Molvær on numerous soundtracks, some of them collected on Re-Vision (Sula, 2008).

Before the lights went down and the films began, Sheppard addressed the audience, explaining the premise of Not So Silent Movies and, to get the group started, asking the audience to provide three notes to be used to kick-start the first in-the-moment soundtrack. With those notes in hand, the lights dimmed and the first of two shorts that occupied the first half of the afternoon's performance came on: Charlie Chapin's The Immigrant, from 1917, a 20-minute short followed almost immediately by Cops (1922), from comedian Buster Keaton, whose longer film, College (1927), occupied the second half of the program.

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