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Trondheim Jazzfest 2019: Part 1-2

Trondheim Jazzfest 2019: Part 1-2
Henning Bolte By

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Trondheim Jazzfest
Trondheim, Norway
May 9-10, 2019

Trondheim, Norway's third largest city and the country's center of intelligence in science, engineering and technology, holds a key position in Norwegian history and identity in general, and in jazz/music specifically.

The source

Trondheim started the first academic jazz-education in Norway at the end of the '70s of the last century that is now part of the Music Department of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Trondheim stands for an innovative approach of institutional jazz education. It has yielded a long series of musicians of the post-Garbarek generation with a strong impact on the development of Norwegian jazz in all its facets over the past few decades and a noteworthy diversity of temperaments and temperatures in music making. This year's festival celebrated 40 years of his practice of Jazzlinja of NTNU with a Festkonsert.

Females ruling

The six-day Trondheim Jazzfest starts the coastal series of spring festivals along with Stavanger and Bergen. Jazzfest Trondheim has been a matter of unpredictable diversity, astonishing contrasts and opposites so far. It is not forced into a single direction. The next different thing is always 'around the corner' (see my reviews at All about Jazz). Part of this year's edition was a JazzExpo with special showcases that is reviewed here.

The festival presented about 46 acts over the course of seven days. 12 of these acts were male fronted, 20 were female fronted and 14 were mixed groups of more or less egalitarian character. A larger part of the male lead units were solely male. Among the female-lead units six of them were solely female units (Eldbjørk Raknes, Mette Rasmussen, Trondheim Voices, Gurls, Maria Bertel/Nina Garcia duo, Young Voices). Four of the acts were solo-performance, of which two were female shows (vocalist Eldbjørk Raknes, saxophonist Mette Rasmussen), one male (guitarist Miles Okazaki) show and one queer (saxophonist Bendik Giske) show. The expo-part also had a high proportion of female musicians and female-lead groups (4:2).

In the festival a remarkable number of female vocalists made appearances. Next to the seven vocalists of Trondheim Voices a total of 10 vocalists performed: Kristin Asbjørnsen, Johannes Tiefenbrunner, Kirsti Huke, Angelique Kidjo, Jelena Kuljic, Emilie Nicolas, Tamara Obrovac, Madeleine Peyroux, Eldbjørg Raknes, Natalie Sandtorv, and Rohey Taalah—a clear female predominance. Male vocalists were completely absent. And finally, about the proportions of Scandinavians vs. non-Scandinavians: there were eight non-Scandinavian units: Tony Allen, Sylvie Courvoisier Trio, KUU!, Christine Jensen, Tamara Obrovac Trio, Miles Ozaki, Madeleine Peyroux and Strobes—a clear predominance here too.

JazzExpo: six concerts

The music(ians) of the Jazzexpo showcases represented a well-balanced variety of firmly interconnected knots of a musical network with strong Trondheim anchorage. It can be depicted as a hexagon with Mette Rasmussen and Natalie Sandtorv as crest points and the other four as angles of a solid body of varied work with Trondheim Voices and Kirsti Huke on the left and Hegge and Sondre Ferstad Ensemble on the right (see slide show).

Mette Rasmussen

Mette Rasmussen is the ultimate free blowing musician. Operating in free improvising, real time creation mode the energy, strength, clarity and endurance of her music made a memorable mark. Her music, full of passion, drove forcefully on a firm inner pulse without falling into any metrical trap. Her sound and music are highly condensed and penetrating as well as permeable. During the performance I was wondering where the fulminating, explosive and unrelenting forces came from. Rasmussen is able to get through the heaviest walls of sound of tough rock and noise bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Moe she performs with. To be able to accomplish this you have to know the instrument and have absorbed the striking saxophone Spielarten of your predecessors. Presently there are few musicians who can make such a comprehensive, strong and captivating sound on the alto sax. She convincingly summarizes the art of her instrument and the traces it left in the jazz field. It was more than fitting that Rasmussen was announced as recipient of this year's jazz award of Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

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