Mention the phrase "the Norwegian sound" and many listeners will get an image in their head. An image of a natural, deep echoing sound influenced by the mountains and hills of the Norwegian landscape. Such an image is, of course, a cliché, but to some critics it has stuck and distorted the rich fertility of the Norwegian jazz scene.
Just like a postcard doesn't represent the true image of a country, it would be wrong to assert that there is one type of Norwegian jazz and producer Odd Gjelsnes, who runs the Oslo-based record label Losen Records
, isn't in the business of manufacturing myths. Instead, he immediately corrects this wrong when being asked about the so-called Norwegian sound: "I don't know If there is such a thing as a Norwegian sound, I think this was more likely to be found in the past when Terje Rypdal
and Jan Garbarek
came into the jazz scene with their strong and distinctive sound. The ECM sound has sometimes been confused with being The Norwegian Sound. For some time, some Danish critics have had fun pigeonholing Norwegian Jazz as "mountain jazz." When asking what mountain jazz is, I got an answer that "we" did not play real music when using lap tops etc. It did not make me any wiser."
As Gjelsnes concludes: "Maybe they just envy us all this talent. There just seems to be an endless flow of new talented musicians that are having success not only in Norway, but in many other countries as well. Not only are all these new kids very competent and good musicians, but they have the guts and the ability to mix all sorts of music and find their own way in the jazz jungle without any prejudices."
Elaborating on the cosmopolitan nature of many Norwegian jazz musicians, Gjelsnes says: "We have several musicians that have moved to other countries, for instance USA, like the trombone player Jens Wendelboe playing with Blood, Sweat & Tears apart from having his own New York Big Band. There is also the keyboard player Håkon Graf, who lives in California and plays with all the big names and has a trio with Gary Grainger
and Dennis Chambers
. The bassist Eivind Opsvik
is playing with "everyone" in New York. The saxophonist Ole Mathisen
is also a strong force on the New York jazz scene. And, of course, the guitarist Lage Lund
that I am happy to have on Losen Records with his OWL Trio. In Oslo, the old band Magnolia Jazzband is keeping the traditional New Orleans music alive. Paal Nilssen-Love
is a driving force worldwide as a drummer on the free- jazz scene only to mention a few."
In conclusion to the question of a special Norwegian jazz sound, Gjelsnes says: "If there is anything distinctive about Norwegian jazz it must be the fact that the whole range of jazz is covered in a professional way by Norwegian musicians. The openness and will to search for new expressions is probably also a factor. With the fact that we are only 5 million people living in Norway, it is obvious that the market is too small for all these musicians and that has more or less forced them to seek abroad for a bigger market."
Like the Norwegian musicians he works with, Gjelsnes has a cosmopolitan nature himself and has built his own studio in Spain where many of the projects on Losen Records will be recorded in the future: "Studio Barxeta is just one corner of a 1600m2 big Finca (farm house) situated on the top of a hill in the middle of a gigantic orange plantation with no next door neighbours or any outside noise that can interfer with the recordings. We are situated about 40 minutes south of Valencia close to the city Xativa."
Not only are the surroundings beautiful, the accommodation is also convenient: "The musicians are living in a flat just around the corner of the studio. We have a brand new swimming pool for studio visitors only and the studio can be used any time, even far into the nights if that is a wish. If the musicians hire the studio for one week, we are not counting hours within this week. It is one price for one week regardless of working hours. We are all living close together in the process of making good music. A side effect of this is many good conversations, long nights with good wine and food. In total, a week that the musicians will hopefully remember with a good feeling. We have experienced that musicians appreciate having plenty of time for the recordings compared to most other studios where every hour is counted."
The engineer in the studio is Dani Castelar who gets the following testimonial from Gjelsnes : "He has experience from working with Michael Jackson, R.E.M, Paolo Nutini and many others. With Dani I feel very safe. The experience we have had is that the musicians too are happy with the cooperation they have with Dani. It is not so much one kind of sound I am looking for, but a good sound that works for that particular music. Dani has experience from all kinds of music and we have an open studio for everyone whatever kind of music they are playing"
The adventure in Spain is a fairly new chapter in the story of Losen Records. Gjelsnes also has a long history of collaboration with the famous engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug: "For many years, I had the privilege and the pleasure of staying in the Rainbow Studio together with Manfred Eicher and Jan Erik Kongshaug during several ECM recording sessions. This way I got to know Jan Erik quite well and I am sure I learned a lot about the recording process and how to listen to the music during the recordings. It only feels natural to continue my cooperation with Jan Erikeven with my own studio in Spain. For some recordings, it might be more practical to do the recording in Oslo rather than in Spain."
Gjelsnes knows Eicher from his job as a music distributor. This was his entry into the record industry, but he has a long history of working with records: "I never was a talent for being a musician, but wanted to work in the music business and got myself a job as an export manager in Express Record Service in England around 1973/1974. They were one of the biggest mail order companies for LPs at that time. After 1 year in England, I came back to Norway and started a record shop (Ausonia) in the small town Kongsvinger. I soon found out that no one in Norway was specializing in taking care of the distribution of jazz LPs from all the fine independent jazz labels around. With my shop as a base, I started a distribution with SteepleChase, Nessa, Gramavision and a few other labels.
This business was growing quickly and not before long, I got a message from Manfred Eicher that ECM was looking for a reliable distributor in Norway and wanted me to come down to München for a meeting. At the same time, a group of people in Oslo were planning to merge the Norwegian classical music, the folk music and jazz into one strong independent company. I closed down my shop Ausonia, joined them and moved to Oslo, brought ECM and all the other labels I had into this company. This way Musikkdistribusjon was born. My career in Musikkdistribusjon lasted about 10 years until 1995. In 1997, I started my own distribution company, MusikkLosen. Most of the labels that were under my responsibility in Musikkdistribusjon followed me into MusikkLosen."
When Gjelsnes later started a record label, he chose a name that was related to his distribution company: "MusikkLosen means The Music Pilot so when finding a name for the label, it obviously had to be Losen Records."
Gjelsnes was happy working as a distributor, but then the crisis of the record industry came, which, ironically, allowed him to change track and do what he had always dreamt of doing: "MusikkLosen had some fantastic years as a distributor for jazz, classical and world/folk music. I have always wanted to have my own record label, but due to very good sales and very busy days in MusikkLosen, I did not have the time until the downloading and the streaming issue started to be a bad competitor for the CD sale in 2009-2010. I was annoyed by the fact that most record shops closed down and it became very difficult to sell CDs. I have always liked the CD as a media and I thought, as strange as it may sound, that maybe now is the right time to start a record label. It was more or less in protest against most of the music journalists in Norway that every week predicted the death of the CD and kept on with this negative writing. Like they had an agenda to get rid of the CD."
Reflecting on the development in the record industry, Gjelsnes says: "Now a couple of years later, the journalists have to admit that they were wrong on one issue. Downloading and streaming are good for the major companies (Sony, Universal etc.). For the independent smaller labels it has proven to be a disaster, at least so far."
Gjelsnes took another path. He had known the pianist Dag Arnesen
and his trio from his work as distributor and asked them to become part of his new label: "They were looking towards Sony and Universal for their next release, I asked themwhat if I started a record label. Would that be of interest for you? This was the start of Losen Records." The record was the third installment of Arnesen's Norwegian Song
trilogy and became an instant success and later Gjelsnes re-released the other parts of the trilogy on his new label.
To this day, the record still has a special place in his heart along with two other albums: "I like all the releases in my catalogue, but I can pick three of them for a special reason: Acuña- Hoff-Mathisen: Barxeta
(Losen Records, 2012) will always be a special recording for me. Not only because it is good music, but it was the first recording in our studio in Spain and we all had a fantastic and memorable week together. Dag Arnesen Trio with Norwegian Song 3
(Losen Records, 2010) was the first recording for Losen Records and very much a reason and a possibility for starting the label back in 2010. And little did I know when buying my first jazz LP, the record that got me into jazz: John Surman
's double LP, The Trio
(Dawn, 1970), that so many years later I would be able to release new music with John Surman on my own label."
Elaborating on the philosophy behind the label and his role as a producer, Gjelsnes says: "I have one important philosophy for my label. I will only release music that I personally like and work together with musicians that are a pleasure to cooperate with. Some of my releases are with musicians that I did not even know about before. Like Skopje Connection, Øyvind Nypan and Michael Aadal. They just sent me the finished music. I liked it very much. We have some discussions regarding the order of the tracks, I make the cover and that is it. While on other releases I am quite involved in everything, but since I am basically working with professional, experienced musicians, they know themselves pretty well what they want and quite often that is easy to agree upon for me. However, I am not afraid of telling if I disagree with what is going on. My label is still very young, but I have a vision of crossing cultures, bringing good Spanish musicians to Studio Barxeta and mix them up with Norwegian musicians to see what comes out of that. I see many possibilities in that direction."
When it comes to packaging and design, Gjelsnes knows what he wants: "I have been selling records most of my life and I have a clear picture of how I would like my covers to look. I have so often seen good music that does not sell because of a bad cover and a good cover can actually sell bad music, but the best is of course having good music wrapped up in good covers. I have a good cooperation with various photographers and painters. Sometimes I can even use my own photos. It is essential for me that the musicians are happy with the cover. We can have discussions about this, but in the end, I have the final decision. For instance: I always want the name and the title at the top on the front, that makes it easy to read even at a distance.
"I am cooperating with a designer that is an old friend of mine that I feel safe with and I am lucky to have another friend, David Fishel, now living in Liverpool, that makes sure the English language in the digipacks and on press releases are flawless. He also does liner notes occasionally. I like the listeners of a Losen CD to have something to read and some pictures to look at while listening to the music. It makes it more personal. It makes it more of a physical product compared to the downloading and streaming business."
Speaking of the music itself, Gjelsnes says: "An ideal record is usually music that can surprise me. It probably has a certain groove and swing, but you can come a long way with honest and good music making. When someone is asking me what kind of music I like, I usually answer John Coltrane
, Tchaikovsky and Led Zeppelin just to grasp the categories and I could surely add folk/world music. Being a music lover, there is so much music to like. I sure like my friend Stephan Winter's label: Winter & Winter. They have some releases I am not so happy with, but I always like the philosophy behind the releases. They have classical music, jazz, world and crossovers in all direction. No boundaries. I like that. I am not going to adapt their way of running a label, but don't be surprised if I released some rock music, classical or folk in the future."
The future looks exciting for Losen Records and there are already several projects coming up, as Gjelsnes explains: "Svein Gjermundrød is a trumpeter that has been active on the Norwegian music scene since he was 16 years old. I knew him well in my youth as we grew up in the same district. Now he has just turned 60 years of age and he is finally releasing his first CD. It is quite original, but very groovy music with a line-up of trumpet, Hammond B3 and drums plus some vocal on a couple of tracks. It is called Kitten on the Funkies
and has an end of August release. I have already recorded the next one with the guitarist Christer Fredriksen
and his trio. It will probably be released in October. The trumpeter Hildegunn Øiseth's new release is also recorded. This is really beautiful music with the Swedes Tommy Kotter on piano, Peter Janson on bass and Anders Kjelllberg on drums. It will be released by the end of September. These days I am preparing a classical music and poetry release with the pianist Håvard Gimse and the actress Lise Fjeldstad. I also have a recording session in Rainbow studio for three days with this super group: Jan Gunnar Hoff, Arve Henriksen
, Anders Jormin
and Marilyn Mazur
. The CD will be called Gathering
and this is really a release to look forward to. There will be an Olga Konkova Trio recording with Per Mathisen
and Gary Husband
sometime later this year. I have at least five other projects lined up, but I need it to be more concrete before I can reveal names."
In spite of the crisis in the record industry, Gjelsnes has taken a positive approach to music making and continues to believe in what he is doing and even though he is modest about his own contribution to the Norwegian jazz scene, he has a firm belief in jazz as an art form: "I see no big problem with the future of jazz. Jazz is elastic music that can be stretched in all directions and we will always see new talented musicians defining jazz in their own original way or redefining tradition."
A stone-cold proof of this statement can be found in the catalogue of Losen Records where quality and originality abound. There isn't just one Norwegian sound, but several exciting new Norwegian sounds.
Dag Arnesen Norwegian Song 3
Norwegian pianist Dag Arnesen
is one of the most successful artists on Losen Records. His affiliation with the label started in 2010 when the album Norwegian Song 3
was released. It is the third part of a trilogy whose previous volumes came out on Resonant Music in 2007 and 2008. Later, Losen Records decided to re-release the two volumes in 2011, so currently the whole trilogy is available on the label with improved sound and distinctive design.
Volume three finds Arnesen polishing and perfecting the aesthetic of the former volumes where he explored the music of classical composer Edvard Grieg and traditional Norwegian folk music. However, this time there is also room for his own compositions and it is the tender original "De nære ting / Close At Heart" that opens the album. Immediately, a universe of warmth and intimacy is created and Danish trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg
, a special guest on the album, provides a whispery sound. His horn is like a gentle, soothing breeze that blows through the melodic landscape of the trio of Arnesen, bassist Ellen Andrea Wang and drummer Pål Thowsen.
It is no new idea to translate national folk forms into lyrical jazz. In fact, this was already done in 1964 when Swedish pianist Jan Johansson
released his famous album Jazz På Svenska
(Ais / Megarock, 1964). It might be that Johansson found the formula, but Arnesen provides his own interpretation of the folk legacy of his country and the result is exquisite and has justly received many accolades from around the world. Somewhere between classical music, Nordic lyricism and the immediate appeal of a good pop melody, Arnesen finds a unique expression that is both distinctively Norwegian and transcends the limitations of time and place.
Olga Konkova My Voice
Like fellow pianist Dag Arnesen, Olga Konkova sings through her instrument. Her approach to the piano is melodic and she also has an ability to dive into what is called "The Collective Unconsciousness" on a composition from her solo album Return Journey
(Losen, 2011). A profound and sensitive touch on the keys is matched by her will to explore dangerous waters where the quiet stream becomes a maelstrom. The unconscious is represented by a wild energy that verges on dissonance, but Konkova never surrenders herself to chaos. Her music is emotional, but not desolate.
If Return Journey
finds Konkova on an epic journey through her instrument, My Voice
(Losen, 2010) is more like a collection of stories with the human voice in focus. As Konkova explains about the album: "This record is my first attempt to write music for voice and piano. The Inspiration comes from my life- long love for the music of Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler. "
"Enjoy our sadness" Wenche Losnegård sings on "As Before" and captures the gentle melancholy mood of the album perfectly. She has the role as Konkova's Dietrich Fischer Dieskau and interprets her blue jazz-lieder expertly. There's no horror vacui and Losnegård uses pause and intonation as finely tuned instruments that create a space around the compositions that leave room for contemplation.
Konkova's jazzy flourishes keep the songs from meandering and the percussion of Per Hillestad and Paolo Vinaccia
adds extra color and dynamism. On the title track Losnegård sings: "My voice is weak, but weak is not my will without love" and in a sense this statement captures a music that is fragile, but not without strength and determination, and melancholy, but not bleak. A vital rhythmic current flows underneath Konkova's Germanic-inspired jazz- lieders.
Wenche Gausdal Alegria
Wenche Losnegård sings with a voice of experience and this is also the case with Wenche Gausdal, who waited a long time before she released Alegria
(Losen Records, 2012). "Alegria" means "joy" in Portuguese and it is indeed a record that is carried by Gausdal's deep love of Brazilian music. The happiness it brings to her shines through in her voice that is carried by a sensual joie de vivre.
Gausdal congenially rediscovers the magic in Antonio Carlos Jobim
's classic compositions "Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)" and "Dindi," but also finds less familiar chestnuts by composers like Vinicius De Moraes
, Ivan Lins
. This is clearly a singer that has studied the Brazilian tradition and isn't satisfied with clichés and her many visits to the country and countless meetings with samba clubs come across in natural and personal interpretations of the material delivered in perfect Portuguese.
It also helps that Gausdal is surrounded by players just as dedicated as herself. Among them is her husband, Dag Arnesen, who is mostly known for his Nordic tone, but reveals another side of himself on the record with his tasteful warm keyboard embellishments and lightly dancing piano fills.
Another key-player on the album is Brazilian percussionist Celio de Carvalho whose homegrown rhythms add a vital touch to the lush musical landscape. It is hard to think of a better homage to Brazilian music. This is a classy record that manages to play within the Brazilian tradition instead of outside it while having its own identity and sound.
Skopje Connection The Skopje Connection Meets Ernst Reijseger
documented singer Wenche Gausdal's encounter with Brazilian music. Another musical meeting takes place on the album The Skopje Connection Meets Ernst Reijseger
where Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger
teams up with the Skopje Connection, which is the brainchild of Italian producer Enrico Blumer, who has paired the Italian trumpeter Luca Aquino
with two Macedonian musicians: Dzijian Emin on French horn and melodeon and Georgi Sareski
on acoustic guitar.
The result of this musical melting pot is an eclectic stew of moods and sounds. Serious and beautiful, but not without a touch of humor, as shown in the title "The Old Man and the Seal," a cheeky reference to Ernest Hemingway's famous novel The Old Man and the Sea
. The humor comes through not only in words, but also in sound. Thus, Emin makes the sounds of a seal on his horn while the rest of the band conjures a western background, complete with wailing harmonica and acoustic guitar.
The best word to describe the project would be cinematic. It is like Ennio Morricone playing experimental Balkan jazz. Reijseger is just as eclectic as the rest of the trio. He can play swirling cello in the spirit of Philip Glass
on "Midnight Rooster" and create a slowly buzzing background underneath Sareski's western twang on "Gjotzville 2." It is often said that a record creates its own world, but in this case it is certainly true.
John Surman The Rainbow Band Sessions
While The Skopje Connection incorporates many genres, British saxophonist John Surman
's project The Rainbow Band Sessions
is firmly planted in the idiom of jazz. The title of the album is a reference to renowned engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug's Rainbow Studio in Oslo and Kongshaug plays a crucial role on the album. Not only has he recorded, mixed and mastered the album, but he also contributes guitar and has the role of producer. The Rainbow Band Sessions
sees Surman as a leader of a mini- big band that plays a wonderful arrangement of Thelonious Monk
's "Off Minor " and "The Wizard," a lush swinging piece by the British composer Eddie Harvey
. There's also room for two Surman originals, "One Last Waltz" and "Going for a Burton," and then the old partnership between Surman and Canadian composer John Warren
is revived. Among the compositions penned by Warren, "My Sketchy Spanish" is a highlight. It reconfigures the music of the famous Gil Evans/Miles Davis collaboration with a cool touch, using an understated marching rhythm and arabesque brass lines. The Rainbow Band Sessions
started out as pure fun and not as a recording project, but Kongshaug's decision to document the sessions was a wise choice. The album shows a range of superior Norwegian musicians playing modern sophisticated big band music that swings into the 21st century.
Hildegunn Øiseth Stillness
There's a long way from John Surman's full-blown sheets of sound to the understated chamber-jazz of trumpeter Hildegunn Øiseth on Stillness
, but the two albums have one thing in common: they would most likely not have seen existence without the involvement of master engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug. He actively insisted on her recording in his Rainbow Studio and helped finding the right musicians, but it is still Øiseth who sits in the producer's chair.
As the title suggests, Stillness
is a meditative album and shows Øiseth in various settings: duo, trio and quartet, using the line-up of pianists Eyolf Dale
and Torbjørn Dyrud, bassist Mats Eilertsen
and drummer Paul Motian
, he gets into a close dialog with the trumpeter whose soft spacious tone sings throughout the whole album. Stillness
is an album that grows organically and finds the players entering their place in the music with poetic sensibility. The music has a haiku-like simplicity and beauty, which is underlined by the cover photo taken by Odd Gjelsnes that shows a lone tree. In the same way that the photo singles out an ordinary tree that could belong in any forest, Øiseth finds a melodic line and surrounds it with stillness so the music glows and emerges like a bas- relief.
Frank Kvinge Arctic Skyway
Losen Records has many excellent instrumentalists and the label especially boosts an array of impressive guitarists, who know how to navigate in many genres and play with technical mastery and deep sensitivity. One of them is Frank Kvinge, who has both released an album of Brazilian music and a duo record with singer Synnøve Rognlien.
Kvinge is an attentive listener and sideman, who has played with many people and explored genres from country and blues to rock, jazz and world music. Arctic Skyway
(Losen Records, 2010) offers the chance to hear him in a solo setting where the focus is on his original compositions and the sound of wood and steel.
Kvinge has lived and studied in America for many years and his knowledge of folk, country and jazz is evident in his free flowing compositions. His technique on the acoustic guitar is almost frightening and his use of advanced harmonies, slap technique, complicated scales and quick fret runs could easily have turned into empty pyrotechnics, but fortunately, like fellow string artist Alex de Grassi
, Kvinge uses his impressive technique in service of his musical narratives that retain a basic and pure emotionality. There is also an irresistible sense of melody, as shown in "Hey Baby, Hey."
"Frank's Tango" underlines his effortless mastery of several genres. Kvinge can play everything from a tango and a wedding waltz to classical lieder and deep and dusty blues. He is indeed a musical citizen of the world, but somehow all the different expressions unite in his personal style that is both playful, emotional and technically advanced.
Christer Fredriksen Urban Country
Another eclectic guitarist on Losen Records is Christer Fredriksen
. The title of his album Urban Country
underlines the composite nature of his work. Two different worlds are brought together: the sophisticated pulse of the city and the pastoral beauty of the country.
Fredriksen's stylistic breadth is shown in his choice of repertoire. He is equally at home playing Duke Ellington
's classic "In A sentimental Mood" and arranging a Frederic Chopin piano piece for guitar. On the former, he stretches the tones and lets the guitar echo into the horizon while bassist Audun Ramo provides a spare accompaniment. The latter sees him sticking close to the melody that is played with a slightly distorted tone while Ramo plays with bow.
The constellations change throughout the album and the opener, the soft swinging "JC & DC," has welcome support from pianist Ingolv Haaland and saxophonist Bendik Hofseth
. Both of them turn up again on the ballad "Little Girls" where Hofseth's transparent melodic playing is worth noticing while drummer Bjørn Stiauren changes between sticks and brushes and adds a flowing pulse. Urban Country
is a journey through many moods, from the electric country-funk of "Simon Says" to the acoustic balladry of "Signes Sang." If there's one thing that unites the compositions, it is the focus on melody and the merging of roots music with a modern sensibility and sound. Fredriksen has created his own musical space and it is place that is well worth the visit.
Michael Aadal Group Abigail
Like Christer Fredriksen, guitarist Michael Aadal is also interested in creating a distinctive musical universe and he certainly succeeds on Abigail
where the familiar jazz line-up of saxophone, guitar, piano, bass and drums is supplied by Anders Hofstad Sørås' sweeping pedal steel. The result is wide open panoramic soundscapes where a cool Nordic sound merges with dusty western twang.
There is something cinematic about the music, which is underlined by the choir of male voices on "November," which could have been taken from a western soundtrack. Aadal and his group is interested in texture and atmosphere and the narratives that music can provide, but at the heart of it all lies a natural gift for melody. In fact, the litmus test of the album seems to have been whether the melody was strong enough to carry any given composition. Aadal isn't satisfied just to paint moods, he also wants to tell a story.
The strength of the melodies is underlined by the title track, which comes in two versions. An instrumental version that opens the album and a vocal version with singer Stein Roger Sordal. The vocal version brings the tune closer to a band like Calexico, but the strength of Aadal's group is its hybrid between the aesthetic pioneered by saxophonist Jan Garbarek
and the exploration of American roots music examined by a guitarist like Bill Frisell
. Each member of the group has wide stylistic scope. Thus, saxophonist André Kassen is able to shift from a lean singing tone to the intense throaty outbursts on "The Way Home." Abigail
shows a group that travels wide in sound and creates a soundtrack for an imaginary movie.
Owl Trio Owl Trio
One of the influences that Michael Aadal has mentioned is guitarist Lage Lund
. Since Lund moved to New York in 2002, his profile has been on the rise. In the Owl Trio he plays with the equally illustrious Englishmen, saxophonist Will Vinson
and bassist Orlando Fleming.
All three musicians are known as marvelous technicians, but on their self-titled debut, the Owl Trio uses the chamber setting without drums to get into the mood of the music. It is not about speed and restless rhythm, but more an exploration of space and texture. Quite significantly, the album was recorded in an old church and it is indeed a work that invites contemplation and sometimes leans towards the spiritual, as in the reading of saxophonist John Coltrane
's "Dear Lord."
The repertoire shows an awareness of jazz tradition with standards like "I Should Care" and "Yesterdays" and a masterful reading of Duke Ellington's "Morning Glory." On the latter, warm texture and carefully ornamented guitar lines sing in tandem with the soulful sound from Winson's saxophone while Le Fleming's elegant walking bass provides a secure foundation.
It is not only about the past seen in new light, the trio also gives a reading of a modern jazz classic like Jim Hall
's "All Around the City" and new original material like the meditative "Hallow" fits perfectly with the introspective aesthetic of the album.
2013 Oyvind Nypan
is another Norwegian guitarist, who has been part of a jazz scene in another country. He has lived in Paris for many years and it was here he met an international gathering of musicians who became part of his band. On Republique
, American tenor saxophonist Rick Margitza
is the most prominent name, but it isn't a blowing session where individual skills are in the spotlight. Instead, the focus is on Nypan's compositions.
Nypan writes strong melodic grooves like "The Chat and Cut" and the laidback "Shades of Blue" with a catchy riff. He is equally comfortable in ballad territory as he is spinning eloquent narrative lines on the guitar. The pianist, Leonardo Montana
, is a key- player. Whether he is vamping to maintain a groove or supporting the melody with fresh improvisations, he is always in the middle of the music and understands how to navigate in changing waters.
There's an Eastern influence on "Hokousha Tengoku," with its rollicking oriental guitar motif, but Nypan doesn't play world music, but modern jazz inspired by the likes of Pat Metheny
and Kurt Rosenwinkel
. It's lyrical and swinging, but also with elements of rock. It all adds up to a magnificent album.
Acunã / Hoff / Mathisen Barxeta
by percussionst Alex Acuña
, keyboard- player Jan Gunnar Hoff
and bassist Per Mathisen
holds a special place in the Losen Records catalog. It is the first album that was recorded in Studio Berxata in Valancia, Spain, and it represents a new direction for the label.
While having a distinctive Norwegian touch, Losen Records has also pushed the boundaries of genres and the label has been involved in many collaborations and cross-cultural meetings. In that sense, the building of the new studio represents a natural step in an evolution that makes Losen Records a truly cosmopolitan label without severing the ties to the mother country. Barxeta
is a fusion record in the truest sense of the word. Bouncing Latin rhythms and cool Nordic lyricism is brought together. Here is heated vocoder-funk on "Abogat Funk" and subtle exotic sounds and creamy bass on "Western Winds."
The band easily travels from Cuba ("Havana Drive") to Balkan ("Belarus"), but through it all their trademark is a delicate mix of world rhythms and funky beats united with an unmistakable lyricism. It is smooth music, but not without an edge. Like Losen Records, Berxeta
represents a sound that is constantly on its way and yet rooted in a Nordic sensibility. It's a new Norwegian sound of cosmopolitism and collaboration where the sense of tradition and place is firmly intact.
Tracks and Personnel Norwegian Song 3
Tracks: De nære ting / Close At Heart; Astrid mi Astrid / Astrid My Astrid; Dialog / Dialogue; Pål sine høner / Paul On The Hillside; En morgen på Vareggen / A Morning On Vareggen´s Summit; I balladetone / Ballad; Den norske dalevise 2 / Norwegian Valley Song 2; God natt / Good Night; Dansende blomst / Dancing Flower; Pausesignalet / The Interval Signal.
Personnel: Dag Arnesen: piano; Ellen Andrea Wang: bass; Pål Thowsen: drums. My Voice
Tracks: As Before; Never Say; I Could; A Thought; I´ll Be Leaving; Lament For A Lost Maiden; A While; Snowflakes; My Voice.
Personnel: Olga Konkova: piano, acoustic sound effects; Wenche Losnegård: voice; Per Hillestad: drums, percussion (1, 2, 4, 5, 6); Paolo Vinaccia: percussion (9); Knut Hem: acoustic sound effects (2). Alegria