Jazzers Norvegicus : And More Again

Trondheim Jazz Orchestra & Johan Lindvall
On Du Reser Mycket
If there’s one area of the globe where contemporary jazz seems to be in a sustained purple patch, it’s Scandinavia. Along with Matt Gustafsson’s “Thing” project, which has almost become a fixture and a fitting, there have also been some choice releases by Ola Kvernberg, Nods Off, the Big Yes and the snappily named Neumann/Gutvik/Haker Flaten & Nilssen-Love.

Well, now there’s two more worthies for the in-tray. Firstly, Om Du Reser Mycket (which translates as “If you travel a lot”) is a commissioned work by keyboardist/composer Johan Lindvall, which was given its first airing, with Jenny Berger Myhres and Lindvall’s accompanying video, at Molde’s ‘International Jazz Festival’ two years ago. The Trondheim Jazz Ork being old hands at this m.o. as previous commissioned pieces have been overseen by pianist/composer Vigleik Storaas, saxist/composer Eirin Hegdal and, most notably, Chick Corea. While the hastily applied sleeve graffiti might seem to promote a rapid-fire guerrilla jazz splurge – things aren’t quite the way they’re painted, or in this case, red marker-penned. Instead on “Fall”; Johan’s solo piano outing, channelling his inner Debussy and the gorgeous “Att Säga Nej”; a tres chic sixties film theme clone, which swings beautifully with bass clarinet and wordless vocalese, the ensemble’s lightness of touch sees them as a latter-day Graham Collier / Keith Tippettized aggregation with maybe a dash of the KPM Library and El Records’ Marden Hill. Funnily enough, Johan’s expertly blended set-up in which every player, be he/she on guitar, percussion, strings, etc. is shadowed by a partner of identical (or similar) instrumental persuasion, mirrors the working practice found on the Frames double set by Tippett’s aptly named ‘Ark’ project, which was issued on the Ogun imprint back in 1978.

The old two-by-two then; beginning with a six-hundred-year-old Noah (acting on advice), then on to Wessex Studios, London, N5 and finally ending up in Norway with financial support from ‘Talent Norge’, ‘Sparebank 1’ and the Norwegian Arts Council. Krone well invested !!

Andreas Røysum Ensemble
Unlike the T.J.O., the Andreas Røysum Ensemble, line-up wise, eschews the electric guitar option entirely and party just like it’s er, 1967 or thereabouts. That’s pre the nervy shrieks of Johnny Mac and pre–Larry Coryell’s peal of feedback that once hovered over the massed ranks of the J.C.O.A. Fredsfanatisme is the ensemble’s second l.p. released in the space of eighteen months. A strike while the iron is hot approach capturing the nonet’s tight group telepathy, barnstorming solo blasts (“Flipp Ut” and “Jakter på Røyskatten”) and film noir/crime jazz soundtracking abilities (“Sawakuro”). Utilising the cream of scando jazz up-and-comings, the band leader/clarinettist (who’s served time with Tristan Honsinger, Nakama and Alasdair Roberts), has seen his (and indeed the band’s) fascination with indigenous folk, ecstatic jazz and traditional African music pay ultimate dividends for this follow-up set, on which Henriette Eilertsen’s flute receives top billing. She’s at her most prominent on “Lalibela”.

There’s also a punchy two brass/one doleful woodwind section and also there’s three acoustic double-bassists credited, but whoever does what at any given time, they’re never an overbearing/obtrusive presence. Mention must also be given to Kenneth Lien’s cover art band cariacatures, which show Marthe Lea’s tenor sax sprouting an alien tentacle (?), one bassist adopting the pose of a religious ascetic and best of all, an angry-looking Signe Emmaluth looking to snap her alto sax in half. Temper temper! From top to toe, this is an excellent package and one that plugs the gap between the greats (Art Ensemble… Chris McGregor’s B.O.B., Idris Ackamoor…) and the present day.