Eivind Aarset is a guitarist with a unique musical vision that absorbs and reflects all manner of music while retaining an enviable individualism and high quality craftsmanship that can span from quiet intimacy to searing intensity. His debut as a bandleader on Jazzland Recordings was described by the New York Times as "One of the best post-Miles electric jazz albums," setting a high benchmark that Aarset has consistently met and exceeded, both in the studio and in live performance.
As one of Norway's most in-demand guitarists, Eivind Aarset has worked with Jon Hassell, David Sylvian, Bill Laswell, Jan Garbarek, Paolo Fresu, Marilyn Mazur, J.Peter Schwalm, Mike Manieri, Marc Ducret, Michel Benitas Ethics, Martux-M, Stefano Battaglia, Michele Rabbia, Talvin Singh, and Andy Sheppard. He has worked with Nils Petter Molvaer's band, (appearing on all of Molvaer's albums, including the breakthrough album "Khmer" and 2006's award-winning "ER"). He also has collaborated with Dhafer Youssef, both live and in the studio.
Aarset's musical awakening happened when, at the age of 12, he heard Jimi Hendrix. "I started on the guitar as soon as I heard him," he recalls with a smile. "I bought a second hand Hendrix record and that was it. Then I started getting into rock bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Santana and Pink Floyd before my brother introduced me to the music of Miles Davis, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and Return to Forever. After a while, I got into the ECM sound of Jan Garbarek, and Terje Rypdal, who was a big influence. Then I went on the road with a fulltime heavy metal band, a fantastic experience, until I got tired of being angry every night! Then I quit and became a session musician."
As part of the band, Ab & Zu, he created the unique guitar style and sound he would later develop further as part of saxophonist Bendik Hofseth's group. However, it was his involvement with Bugge Wesseltoft and the Oslo Jazz underground that crystallized the sound he was seeking: "What drew me to this music was the hypnotic grooves and musical freedom I found," says Eivind. "There's no established rules or tradition in what I am doing, you can make the rules up as you go along. Rhythm is the centre of the music, the landscape the soloist travels through. It's fresh territory and I have no idea where this scene will end up, but there's a lot of great sounds and new music being created which makes it such an exciting scene."