One of my favorite weeks of the year is the Oslo Jazz Festival week when musicians from around the world come to my hometown to share their music with us. This second of jazz post is about the many wonderful concerts I attended this year.
The first concert I went to was with Joshua Redman at the Victoria National Jazz Scene. The last time I heard him play at this venue, he pointed out that we (Norwegians) might be the only ones in the world who have placed our national jazz scene in the middle of a TGI Fridays (true!). Cause that’s what it looks like from the outside. This rather amusing observation was followed by some compliments on my favorite jazz venue. Joshua Redman had brought his “Still Dreaming" quartet for this concert, featuring Brian Blade, Ron Miles and Scott Colley. Still Dreaming is Redman’s nod to Old and New Dreams. From the stage at Victoria we heard their versions of Ornette Coleman’s “Broken Shadow” and “Turnaround” as well as Charlie Haden’s “Playing”. The interplay amongst the four musicians was exhilarating. I couldn’t possibly have had a better start to my festival week.
Oslo might also be the only city with a jazz scene in the middle of an old military fortress!? However, the fortress offers beautiful surroundings. In the middle of it is a park called “Karpedammen” with an outdoor stage with a fish pond right in front of it. This evening “Karpedammen” was dressed in the shade of the evening sun, and accessorized with hundreds of blankets, smiling people, and cold beers. In other words, there was a good festival vibe at the Gregory Porter concert. He opened with the song “Holding On”, and later on we all got to groove to the funky “Don’t Lose Your Steam”. Though, for me the highlight of this evening was when he sang the beautiful “Take Me To The Alley”. He created a atmosphere with this song.
My friend and musician Davis Whitfield played at the Oslo Jazz Festival this year. If you’ve read some of my previous posts you’ve probably seen his name before, as he was the artist performing at Smalls at our Building Bridges event on International Jazz Day this year. At the OJF, Davis was part of a tap dance and jazz music project with the New York based tap dancer and choreographer, Carter Williams, and his “Carter Williams Dance Theater”. He played with the Staffan William-Olsson Band, featuring Staffan William-Olsson on guitar, Kåre Nymark on trumpet, Stig Hvalryg on bass and Hermund Nygård on drums. Their performance at the Chat Noir Theatre was both visually and audibly beautiful! I’ve never seen a show quite like this before. I truly enjoyed the many moments of improvisation where the two forms of art mutually influenced each other. They had a unique expression, and for me this was the absolute highlight of the festival!
Back at Victoria again, this time to hear the Kurt Rosenwinkel Standards Trio. Together with Dario Deidda on bass and Marco Valeri on drums, Kurt Rosenwinkel presented a program of music with standards from among others Joe Henderson, Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. My favorite number this evening: “Misty”.
Herr Nilsen is one of Oslo’s good jazz clubs, and this evening they were hosting the jazz band “Halles Komet” with Morten Halle on saxophone, Andre Petersen on piano Torstein Lofthus on drums, Edvard Askeland on bass and Feya Faku on trumpet. The bass player is also the festival director of the Oslo Jazz Festival. Herr Nilsen was crowded and the band ensured a lively and festive atmosphere this whole evening. These musicians expressed so much joy from the stage.
Victoria was the perfect venue to round off this year’s festival. The last concert I attended was a tribute concert called “Remembering Michael Brecker”. Together with pianist Jørn Øien, bassist Daniel Franck and drummer Hermund Nygård, Petter Wettre brought the audience along on an expedition through Michael Brecker’s musical universe. Petter Wettre always deliver!
Oslo Jazz Festival was amazing, and I look so much forward to next year’s festival.