All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

13

Olga Konkova & Jens Thoresen: December Songs

Mark Sullivan By

Sign in to view read count
December Songs is a sly title for an album of mostly Christmas music, but it suits the subtle approach taken by the Norwegian duo of pianist Olga Konkova and guitarist Jens Thoresen. The arrangements consistently find fresh approaches to very familiar music, transforming the tunes into something elusive and beautiful. Add in the improvisational element, and the result is an openness rare in holiday music. This is music first: the holiday theme is an organizing principle, not the whole reason for the project.

The pair take many different roles over the course of the album. For the traditional hymn "Deilig er jorden (Fairest Lord Jesus)" Thorsen plays accompaniment throughout, using an ostinato pattern with echo, leaving Konkova to muse on the theme. On "Glade jul (Silent Night)" a lyrical guitar solo erupts after the theme, then the piano re-harmonizes the tune to end the track. Thoresen begins "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" solo, first improvising on the chord changes, then introducing the melody; when Konkova's piano enters she plays the entire tune, but still freely. "Jinglebells" takes yet another approach, featuring rolling piano arpeggios while the guitar plays melodic fragments in the low register. The most radical re-harmonization is reserved for the closer "White Christmas" It has a tonally ambiguous sound, almost bi-tonal: as if the guitar and piano are playing in different keys.

Russian-born, Konkova moved to Oslo in 1994. Among her many projects is membership in the big band Ensemble Denada, where she plays with Thoresen. Thoresen is an active freelancer who composes for TV, film, radio and theater. He works in pop and rock in addition to jazz, and is also responsible for recording, mixing and mastering this beautiful sounding album. This may be their first time recording as a duo, but their musical compatibility is deep.

Track Listing: Du grønne glitrende tre; Deilig er jorden (Fairest Lord Jesus); Away In Manger; Det lyser i stille grender; Glade jul (Silent Night); Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas; Jeg er så glad hver julekveld; Jinglebells; The Christmas Song; En rose er utsprungen (Lo How A Rose E´er Blooming); White Christmas.

Personnel: Olga Konkova: piano; Jens Thoresen: guitar.

Title: December Songs | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Losen Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Old Songs

Old Songs

Losen Records
2017

buy
December Songs

December Songs

Losen Records
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read Ellipse CD/LP/Track Review
Ellipse
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 23, 2018
Read While We Still Have Bodies CD/LP/Track Review
While We Still Have Bodies
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Ghost Town Blues Band CD/LP/Track Review
Ghost Town Blues Band
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Toot Suite CD/LP/Track Review
Toot Suite
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Love + Time + Divination CD/LP/Track Review
Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read Gleb Kolyadin CD/LP/Track Review
Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018
Read "Fistfight At The Barndance" CD/LP/Track Review Fistfight At The Barndance
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Steppin' Up" CD/LP/Track Review Steppin' Up
by Jerry D'Souza
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Lala Belu" CD/LP/Track Review Lala Belu
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 27, 2018
Read "Stratus" CD/LP/Track Review Stratus
by Edward Blanco
Published: August 11, 2017
Read "Elvesang" CD/LP/Track Review Elvesang
by John Kelman
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981" CD/LP/Track Review Another Night: The Sire Recordings 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017