This Second of Jazz post is about two of the concerts I attended in March. Both concerts were arranged by Kampenjazz at Cafeteateret in Oslo – one of our warm and nice jazz clubs recently equipped with a brand-new Yamaha.
The first concert was a release concert with Eyolf Dale’s project Wolf Valley with Eyolf Dale on piano, Per Zanussi on bass, Gard Nilssen on drums, André Roligheten on saxophone and clarinet, Hayden Powell on trumpet, Kristoffer Kompen on trombone, Adrian Løseth Waade on violin and Mattias Ståhl on vibraphone.
This was a celebration of Dale’s second album with his Wolf Valley project. His new album is called “Return to Mind” and it is a wonderful sequel to the first album from 2016. The compositions are inspired by a wide range of musical styles. The ensemble is united, and still there’s plenty of room for each musician to make their individual mark on the compositions.
Dale’s music is characterized by fast changes in both rhythm and style, and his new compositions are no exception. The tune “Rhône” is a typical example of how Dale creates a story with his music. “Rhône” starts off with a waltzy intro where Waade and Dale conduct the listeners mind to the rural France. The wind section comes in, supporting the calm vibe, before Ståhl, Zanussi and Nilssen suddenly brings us into a more urban and jazzy mood.
I’ve listened through this album several times the last couple of days. Among my favorites are the hip-wiggling and groovy “I Can’t Deny” and the playful and rhythmic “The Mayor”.
The second concert was also a release concert with pianist Espen Berg and his trio with Bárđur Reinert Poulsen on bass and Simon Olderskog Albertsen on drums. Their last album “Mønster” was released in 2015 to great reviews. The new album “Bølge” is absolutely no retrogression. All compositions are by Espen Berg, except from the first track “Hounds of Winter” (Sting). This is Espen Berg Trio in their usual experimental and rhythmically challenging style.
They started off by playing the lyrical tune “Climbing” followed by “Tredje”. The latter has an intro with a somewhat experimental Nordic vibe, but about half-way into the tune it changes, and for a moment I felt like I was at a late-night jam session in NYC. The next tune they played was “XIII”, one of my favorite tracks on this album. Albertsen created a you-had-to-be-there moment when he took his solo. The title track “Bølge” (transl. “Wave”) is a ballad that deserves both the visual and literal attention it gets on the album’s front cover. Berg’s calm and floating piano intro did in fact feel like waves through the room. The fifth tune they played was “Cadae”. A tune that according to its composer is somehow related to the mathematical number, Pi, (the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter; 3.14159265358979323…). A perfect tune for listeners with a particular fascination for rhythm and mathematical mysteriousness. Poulsen had the honor of introducing the next tune “Skoddefall”. He gave the audience a powerful bass intro and another you-had-to-be-there moment!
They rounded off the concert by playing the beautiful Sting composition, “Hounds of Winter”. After receiving a well-deserved applause, they granted the audience with an extra number, a tune called “Meanwhile in Armenia” that will be on the next album. Hence, they sent us into the frosty winter night with a promise that there is more great music awaiting us.