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Molde International Jazz Festival 2013

John Kelman By

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Making their first 2013 Molde appearances along with Kannegaard, Strønen and Jørgensen are two players more fully defining the pianist's music. Strønen's flowing ability with a kit was matched, at least during one segment in the set, with his remarkable adeptness with electronics, his hands and fingers moving so rapidly amidst his pads and buttons as to be nearly invisible, as he morphed sounds on the fly— planned and unplanned, preconceived and in the moment. Jørgensen, always a charismatic performer even as he does everything from a seated position, provided a melodic fulcrum, his open trumpet a thing of beauty, his muted horn vulnerability made sound. When he sang, it added soft humanity at times, but when he resorted to his near primal screams in a language still to be determined, it imbued the music with plaintive cries of both beauty and pain.

It's been some time since Kannegaard has released a recording, and while she has three recordings lined up for a box next year, that does not include the music she performed at Molde. That, she revealed in discussion after the show, will be recorded sometime in 2014, for release later that year or, perhaps, in 2015. It'll be a long wait for that record, but one that will undoubtedly be worth it.

And so, before hitting the sack for a brief three or so hours of sleep prior to heading to the airport and the next destination, it was impossible to say goodbye to Molde without at least checking out half an hour or so of Hedvig Mollestad's trio, coming on after a late-starting set by singer Beady Belle. Contrasting Belle's largely chill-out set, guitarist Mollestad (actually Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen) bassist Ellen Brekken and drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad delivered at least an opening portion of their set, culled from All of Them Witches, with even more amped up power. This was instrumental rock music, but played by a guitarist who has clearly developed a richer language through her jazz studies. With two large hollow body electric guitars, Mollestad went against the grain of the usual solid body guitarist, but still relied heavily on her whammy bar to make her chords sing and pulse. Brekken, while playing electric bass, seemed more disposed to her double bass, certainly a rarity in music of this energy and volume. Bjørnstad had all the power he needed to drive the trio, but in the one gentler tune played before leaving the show he also demonstrated a penchant for lighter cymbal work and softer tones, suggesting something broader at work. It was an energetic, electrified performance whose only downfall was its start time, making it impossible to stay until the end.

It was a shame to have to leave the show, but a necessity. As the plane took off in the early hours of Sunday, June 21, with three flights, a bus and a train on the horizon to get to Siena, Italy, the overriding feeling was that, with Molde Jazz Festival about to change hands, its future may be uncertain—not, in the hands of Anders Eriksson, that it will be anything but promising, but it most certainly will be different—but as Jan Ole Otnæs prepares for his own relocation to Oslo, population half a million, after living in a town of 24,000 for the past 13 years, he has left a clear legacy that will not soon be forgotten. Thankfully, his work will continue, albeit in a much different context; so as Molde continues under new leadership, it will certainly be Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria's gain.

Photo Credits All Photos: John Kelman


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