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Jostein Gulbrandsen: Looking Ahead

Read "Looking Ahead" reviewed by Tyran Grillo

Norwegian-born, New York-based guitarist Jostein Gulbrandsen makes a modest splash with this set of eight originals. The composing is in-the-tradition and buoyant throughout, and harnesses the abilities of an enviable band. Bassist Mike McGuirk exudes plenty of sunshine in opener “Gee Wheez," revealing a carefree undercurrent that infuses the entire session. Drummer Mark Ferber catches his own share of spotlight in the title track, across which the bandleader links one thoughtful note after another. Although perhaps ironic given the sentiment, ...

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Svein Rikard Mathisen: Copenhagen Diaries

Read "Copenhagen Diaries" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

Copenhagen Diaries documents Norwegian, Bergen-based guitarist Svein Rikard Mathisen experiences while studying at the acclaimed Rhythmic Music Conservatory in the Danish capital, an era described by him as a “twilight zone" where “curiosity meets nightmares and angst meets caffeine." Fortunately, Matisen experiences were processed into an appealing yet complex compositions, reflecting the dramatic emotional turmoil of that seminal time. Mathisen core quartet feature Swedish pianist William Larsson and double bassist Paul Hinz and Danish drummer Andreas ...

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Lars Andreas Haug Band: Conrairo

Read "Conrairo" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

The new generation of Norwegian tuba players keep challenging this under-rated instrument. Two years ago it was the trio of Martin Taxt, Kristoffer Lo and Robin Hayward who investigated the timbre characteristics of the tuba on microtub (Sofa Music, 2011) and last year Lo explored the tuba as a sound source for dark and intense soundscapes on Anomie (Gigafon, 2012). Now a less experimental yet highly creative tuba player, Lars Andreas Haug, on his third release as a leader, explores ...

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Frode Kjekstad: The Italian Job

Read "The Italian Job" reviewed by Ian Patterson

The sound of a Hammond organ has the knack of automatically resetting your watch to 1960-something, just as wah-wah guitar unfailingly conjures the 1970s and the dreaded synthesizer, the 1980s. And whilst Norwegian guitarist Frode Kjekstad's organ trio unequivocally revives the spirit of organists Jack McDuff and Jimmy Smith on The Italian Job, his trio--with organist Marisco Alberto and drummer Enzi Zirilli--swings with a bluesy delight that's hard to resist. Kjekstad previously recorded with organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and drummer ...

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Tellef Ogrim: Wagon 8

Read "Wagon 8" reviewed by John Kelman

While it's easy to find artists who focus on fretless electric bass, those who concentrate on fretless electric guitar are less commonplace. High profile artists including jazz icon Pat Metheny and guitarist/vocalist Adrian Belew have dabbled with fretless guitars over the years, but few make it a priority. Norwegian guitarist Tellef Øgrim has been focusing on the instrument for twenty years, and while he's been involved in a variety of musical projects over the years, Wagon 8 is his first ...

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Solveig Slettahjell: Good Rain

Read "Good Rain" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

This fourth release by Norwegian vocalist Solveig Slettahjell and the Slow Motion Quintet offers another magical experience. On Good Rain, these creative and busy musicians expand the musical language that they began to explore on their previous release, Pixiedust (Curling Legs, 2005). In addition to Slettahjell, the group includes trumpeter Sjur Miljeteig, formerly of the jazz-pop-electronica outfit Jaga Jazzist and one of the leaders of the art-rock group Friko; keyboardist Morten Qvenild, who leads In The Country and Susanna and ...

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Solveig Slettahjell: Pixiedust

Read "Pixiedust" reviewed by Eyal Hareuveni

Cool Norway seems to be the most efficient hothouse for new talents in Europe in recent years. Vocalist Solveig Slettahjell is by no means a new talent, but only now is her third solo disc, with her Slow Motion Quintet, being distributed outside of Norway. Slettahjell was a student of renowned Norwegian vocalist Sidsel Endresen, with whom she collaborated recently in Jon Balke's Batagraf ensemble (Statements, ECM, 2005). She recorded with the experimental all-female vocal quartet Kvitretten, with jazz singers ...

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Frode Kjekstad: New York Time

Read "New York Time" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Guitarist Frode Kjekstad is a Norwegian who makes himself at home in the Big Apple on this splendid album with New York companions Dr. Lonnie Smith, Byron Landham, and special guest Eric Alexander. To me, there are few musical alliances more pleasing than a guitar/organ/drums trio that sounds terrific and swings like a metronome, as this one does. If there's anything that could enrich the partnership, that would certainly include inviting an eloquent and powerful tenor saxophonist such as Alexander ...

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Sidsel Endresen & Bugge Wesseltoft: Duplex Ride

Read "Duplex Ride" reviewed by AAJ Staff

The duo is often a format of interplay; this one more than most. She sings; he mans a massive bed of keyboards. The adventure goes further: some of these pieces are free improvisations, including the words. There are few precendents for this: Stevie Wonder ad-libbed the words to “Fingertips”, but the words didn’t make it a hit. Dubs and echo are used often, making him an orchestra and her a choir. It could be overdone but it isn’t: they have ...

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Tore Brunborg & Jarle Vespestad: Orbit

Read "Orbit" reviewed by AAJ Staff

It’s a little different fro some duet records, and that’s a good thing. Rather than an endless cutting contest, Jarle Vespestad is clearly in the accompanist’s role, adding taps and shimers to Brunborg’s quiet musing. This is introspection, and you hear their thoughts as they take on standards in a non-standard way.

At the top is “Django”; Brunborg takes it slowly, stressing the sadness as it becomes a funeral march. Vespestad patters soft, brushes here, a shaker there, not following ...