Saxophonist Hakon Kornstad has enjoyed critical praise not only for his performance technique and emotional intelligence, but also for his willingness to experiment in a wide range of different expressive moods. Combining soundscapes and percussive beats and layers with a melodic sensibility, there's always been a sense of awe when listening to his recordings. In his newest offering, Dwell Time (Jazzland, 2009), we are again presented with his well-honed musicality, but this time the performances are all his own, in a scaled-down setting. It is a solo effort in every sense of the word.
In eight pieces we are offered a variety of expressions. From Still One, which seems to convey a reflective solitude, to the cool hipness of Oslo and the aptly titled Noir, Kornstad astounds us with his ability to masterfully grasp a spectrum of emotional output through his tenor sax, bass sax, flutonette, flute, in addition to his live looping. Recorded in the Sofienberg Chruch in Oslo, the album is produced by Kornstad as well.
"When I recorded 'Single Engine' in 2007, I was eager to show variety," Kornstad states. "With Dwell Time it was different. I simply wanted to get into one mood, dwell on it - and hit the record button. Insert the expression 'free improvisation' here if you like; the music was created there and then, and without overdubbing or serious editing. The Sofienberg Church in Oslo provides some excellent and inspiring acoustics, and this album was the result of a couple of nights there in January, followed by a serious cull of many of the little darlings. Enjoy the survived ones here."
Kornstad, who spends the gist of his time in New York and Oslo, was born in Oslo on April 5th, 1977. He began playing the clarinet in grammar school at a young age, eventually leading to studying saxophone formally at the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory. "Stan Getz was an early influence and I used to listen to my father's albums. I also heard Coltrane but thought he was too weird - I just didn't get him at the time. It wasn't until after I got into Jan Garbarek and Keith Jarrett's 'Personal Mountains' album that I think this opened up Coltrane for me," Kornstad says about his impressionable years. Its often noted about him, though, that while others stop at emulating Coltrane, Kornstad has continued on to develop his own particular style and tone, using his influences as a springboard rather than as platform to rest on.