Lakeside Luminaries: Møster!, Ståle Storløkken and Sheila Jordan all shine at Vossa Jazz

 MOSTER

To begin with, Vossa Jazz has the advantage of its tranquil, scenic setting by the large Vangsvatnet lake, surrounded by the misty, snow-capped mountains, looming up in the distance. The small town of Voss hosts one of Norway's longest running jazz festivals, inaugurated back in 1973. Most of the acts play
in the central Park Hotel, which has several suitable spaces in which to house stages of varying sizes. The programming stance of Vossa Jazz is quite adventurous, even by Norwegian standards, presenting artists that inhabit zones of free improvisation, electronica and extreme guitar mangling.

Krog-og-Surman 0063-FAV

The majority of the acts are indigenous, with many of these being key players who enjoy high international profiles. There are also a few out-of-towners involved, not least the New York beatnik singer Sheila Jordan, while English reedman John Surman was making a relatively rare appearance with longtime partner,
singer Karin Krog, surprisingly, now in her 80th year. This pair played early in the evening, in the converted cinema, Gamlekinoen, delivering the expected homely, intimate performance, their warm rapport spreading outwards across an attentive audience. In this setting, Surman eases back into a gentle backing role for much of the time, playing be-boppin' baritone runs, heading towards 'In A Sentimental Mood'. He chases Krog's lines with a silvery skipping fluidity, words and saxophone phrases holding hands closely. She recites a poem, and he whispers underneath, on bass clarinet, while both Surman and Krog are subtly tweaking their source sounds with soft echo and diaphanous synth-spirallings.

Pasborg Storlkken OD

Also in the cinema, this time in its foyer, Ståle Storløkken's mighty Hammond organ lay in wait, alongside Stefan Pasborg's drumkit. Storløkken is all over, but mostly known as a crucial element of Supersilent and Elephant9. The duo's set matched extreme grind with an almost ridiculous humour, as they dug
up rumbling churchy Black Sabbath riffs and scurried into a rat-infested Gothic crypt. The winding, stoned steps to melodramatic excess were traversed, up and down, several times before their load was shot. Storløkken's bass footwork thrummed beside Pasborg's scattering sticks, entering a creepy Twin Peaks forest, shuffling until the full force returns again, with piledriver drums and Phibes phibrilations. Storløkken can also be subtle, traipsing out thin pipe lines while Pasborg makes thin cymbal scrapes.

Mette R1

More raw power was imbibed straight afterwards, on the hotel basement stage, with alto saxophonist Mette Rasmussen (a Dane dwelling in Trondheim) attaining one of the weekend's plateaux, assisted by an all-star band of freedom fighters. With double trouble in the shape of Paul Lytton, Raymond Strid (drums),
Torbjörn Zetterberg and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (basses), her own enraged soloing taking repeated wing amid their battling sides. This was some of the most inspired improvisation witnessed in a while, with natural, organic partnerships emerging, ranging from detailed near-silence into worrying confrontation, the entire quintet working as a single fevered brain. Unleashed, Rasmussen's high wails scrape the low ceiling, dispersed across the rubble of bass/drums scrabble, shot out with a fearsome power and accuracy.

At high noon, on Saturday, in the Ole Bull Akadamiet, just up the hill from the central church, we'd expect guitarist Kim Myhr to open the proceedings sensitively, with his ambient shimmering structures, but in reality, he's already off into another area, making simple open strums and doctoring these resonances via various table-top knob-adjustments, highlighting tones, refracting repeats into an accumulating clangour. When he does pick intricately, it's with the drooped claw manner of a Delta bluesman, before the avalanche of delays arrives. His fingering becomes percussive, aggressively ambient, openly strumming with his right hand, using his left to twiddle the dials. As his hour progresses, it becomes increasingly Terry Riley-ed, the 12 strings becoming so oppressively heightened that we attain the sound of helicopter blades by the fully industrial finale.

20170408 Jordan-and-Brown 0653-kopi

There couldn't be a more subtle follow-up than Sheila Jordan, partnered in intimacy by bassman Cameron Brown. She's slightly scatterbrained, but this is partly down to an informal stand-up act where she's closely in tune with the crowd. At the age of 88, Jordan is allowed to forget a few lines, and improvises
with scatting deftness, into 'The Very Thought Of You' and 'Yesterdays', inventing words about the old days with Lee Konitz and Lennie Tristano, back in the early 1950s. Jordan and Brown play 'Baltimore Oriole', propped up by a walking bassline, delivering in sprechgesang. Then Jordan dedicates a sequence of tunes to the memory of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, so the eras traversed are emphatically of a sepia vintage, as Jordan and Brown breeze through 'Cheek To Cheek' and 'Let's Face The Music And Dance'.

The Saturday high point was provided by Møster!, a band led by new-ish on-the-scene (at least outside Norway, as he's now freshly-40) saxophone voice Kjetil Møster, and also featuring Storløkken again. This guitar and synth-loaded line-up facilitates a titanic explosion of free-groove abandonment, with most
of their set operating at full-strength, another heady jump-cut to a radically altered universe. It was becoming apparent that such a shunt is an important aspect of the Vossa Jazz programming success. Straight afterwards, the old-guard trumpet star Nils Petter Molvær suffered by comparison. Strong though his set was, and operating on a similarly beyond-jazz level, his atmospheric creations sounded oddly dated, with the 1990s being too close for comfort, while Møster's acid-soaked 1960s visions are now safely beyond time, strangely more up to the moment than Molvær's 'ambient-dance-jazz', despite the sterling rock-pose efforts of his guitarist (and pedal steel-er) Geir Sundstøl.

Areve-001

Sunday's best set unwound early in the afternoon, with percussionist Terje Isungset leading a starry ensemble that included Arve Henriksen (trumpet), Morten Qvenild (keyboards), Nils Økland (fiddle) and Mats Eilertsen (bass). Even though they played the specially-commissioned 'Sildrande' piece for around
90 minutes, our attention was constantly gripped, even during the most environmental of openness. Isungset's bass drum fullness reverberated deeply, the twinned Hardanger fiddles bowed with dignified stateliness, and Henriksen revealed a deep desire to plunge his horns into an amplified fishtank, and rattle them around, always in search of previously unexplored aural possibilities. The conclusion came amid the sound of dripping cave-walls, dispersed around the cinema theatre via surrounding speakers, encouraging a poignant form of meditational contemplation.

Later, the trio In The Country, regularly keen on collaborations, presented a team-up with blues guitarist Knut Reiersrud and singer Solveig Slettahjell. Although the concept was to address the blues repertoire, in reality this seemed to be more specific, focusing on the gospel-inflected end of the street. The quintet made a fine balance between reflecting the idioms and impressing them with their own traits, subtly updating such chestnuts as 'Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen' and 'Trouble In Mind'. This was a satisfying way to finish the weekend, with a project that melded elements of genre tradition and wayward intervention, setting folks on their way with a springy steps and spiritually heavy hearts.

– Martin Longley

– Photos by Amalie Johannessen and Runhild Heggem/Vossa Jazz

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Jazz Weekend

Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Ja…

The UK equivalent to the Brussels Jazz Weekend would be...

Read More.....
Orphy Robinson gets Gibraltar rocking beyond Borders

Orphy Robinson gets Gibraltar rocking be…

British vibes virtuoso Orphy Robinson is artist-in-residence at the year's...

Read More.....
Vijay Iyer Sextet and Julian Lage jive to Jazz Cafe

Vijay Iyer Sextet and Julian Lage jive t…

Having reopened its doors in January 2016, following a multi-million-pound...

Read More.....
Jon Hiseman 1944-2018

Jon Hiseman 1944-2018

One of the UK's foremost drummers and bandleaders, Jon Hiseman...

Read More.....
Airto Moreira's Afro-Samba Anthems Raise Roof At Ronnie's

Airto Moreira's Afro-Samba Anthems Raise…

  No greater sign of changing times comes than in this...

Read More.....
Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Binker & Moses head to Harrogate

Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Binker & M…

The Harrogate International Festival, which has been running for over...

Read More.....
Voting Now Open for 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

Voting Now Open for 2018 Parliamentary J…

Voting is now open for the 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards...

Read More.....
Lost John Coltrane Quartet Album surfaces on Impulse!

Lost John Coltrane Quartet Album surface…

A previously unreleased session by the classic John Coltrane Quartet...

Read More.....
Etienne Charles Triumphant At The Tabernacle With Timely Blend Of Defiance And Celebration

Etienne Charles Triumphant At The Tabern…

  This venue has deep historical resonance for black music in...

Read More.....
Jean Toussaint All-Star 6Tet Shine Bright At Ronnie Scott's

Jean Toussaint All-Star 6Tet Shine Brigh…

  'All-star' is a term mostly out of fashion these days...

Read More.....
Horn Doyenne Holsen Hones Minimalist Drones For Hubro Album Launch

Horn Doyenne Holsen Hones Minimalist Dro…

The Norwegian brass-band tradition, which first evolved in that country...

Read More.....
Vandermark and Nilssen-Love Blow Down Brighton's Green Door

Vandermark and Nilssen-Love Blow Down Br…

  The streets of Brighton have been overflowing with music fans...

Read More.....
Tully Takes The Prize To Ronnie's

Tully Takes The Prize To Ronnie's

  What better way to celebrate the conferring of an honour...

Read More.....
Rebirth Of The Cool: Shabaka Hutchings, Thundercat and Nubya Garcia lead a jazz takeover at Field Day

Rebirth Of The Cool: Shabaka Hutchings, …

  After years of going to jazz gigs and being the...

Read More.....
Anthony Braxton's ZIM Sextet go exploring at Cafe OTO

Anthony Braxton's ZIM Sextet go explorin…

  With the death of Cecil Taylor a few weeks ago...

Read More.....
New British Jazz Generation Blasts Bath With Spiritual Baptism

New British Jazz Generation Blasts Bath …

Bath Festival applied radical surgery to their roster of festivals in...

Read More.....
PYJAEN Prosper At Peckham's Ghost Notes

PYJAEN Prosper At Peckham's Ghost Notes

Catching bands at the beginning of their journeys is so often...

Read More.....
Sons of Kemet, Ashley Henry and Yussef Dayes groove at the Great Escape

Sons of Kemet, Ashley Henry and Yussef D…

Since its beginnings in 2006, Brighton's festival of new music...

Read More.....
Zara McFarlane and Jazzmeia Horn among highlights at St Lucia Jazz Fest

Zara McFarlane and Jazzmeia Horn among h…

In recent times this event has had a tenuous relationship...

Read More.....
Rainforest Reveries: Crawford and Simcock In Arboreal Praise For Powys As Birdsongs Take Flight At Hampstead Arts Fest

Rainforest Reveries: Crawford and Simcoc…

Released last month on Basho Records, Birdsong/Cân yr Adar fuses...

Read More.....
Claire Martin, The Printmakers and Jamie Cullum line-up for 606 Club 30 years at Lots Road Festival

Claire Martin, The Printmakers and Jamie…

Chelsea's salubrious jazz den, the 606 Club, is to mark...

Read More.....
Collective X line-up for Love & Protest at Stratford Circus

Collective X line-up for Love & Prot…

Genre-defying London-based group Collective X, led by singer Alya Al...

Read More.....
Love Supreme summit at London's Roundhouse

Love Supreme summit at London's Roundhou…

A blazing afternoon sun, beer-drinking crowds, and smooth electronic beats...

Read More.....
The Lage Lund Trio, Julia Hülsmann and Christopher Dell inspire at Jazzfest Bonn

The Lage Lund Trio, Julia Hülsmann and C…

During its unlikely spell as the post-war capital of West...

Read More.....
Stanley Clarke, Dave Douglas and Avishai Cohen heat up EFG London Jazz Festival

Stanley Clarke, Dave Douglas and Avishai…

The line-up for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Breakin' Convention raise roof with jazz-indebted dance riot at Sadler's Wells

Breakin' Convention raise roof with jazz…

  Founded in 2004 by 'choreopoet' Jonzi D and still curated...

Read More.....
Bärtsch's Mobile Go Minimal Amid Homegrown Diamonds At Estonian Summit

Bärtsch's Mobile Go Minimal Amid Homegro…

  Every music festival has its logistical problems – from gremlins...

Read More.....
Courtney, Kamasi, Frisell and Sheppard thrill the flock as VEIN hits rich seam at Cheltenham

Courtney, Kamasi, Frisell and Sheppard t…

It's a small town, Cheltenham, and the jazz festival is...

Read More.....
WorldService Project's propulsive politics mix punk and Python for satirical japes at Jazz In The Round

WorldService Project's propulsive politi…

"Five disillusioned anti-Brexit punk soldiers...", is how Dave Morecroft, commander-in-chief...

Read More.....
EST Symphony and Akinmusire energise and engage at Espoo's April Jazz

EST Symphony and Akinmusire energise and…

It's 10 years since Esbjörn Svensson's death on 14 June...

Read More.....
Ray Blue Rings True With Pan-Atlantic Quartet At Pizza

Ray Blue Rings True With Pan-Atlantic Qu…

  What better way to celebrate International Jazz Day than with...

Read More.....
Tom Ibarra, Stoney Lane Records store and Family shows complete Cheltenham Jazz Fest line-up

Tom Ibarra, Stoney Lane Records store an…

The doors are almost open for this year's edition of...

Read More.....
Esperanza and Nubya energises while Dame Cleo mesmerises at Jazz FM Awards

Esperanza and Nubya energises while Dame…

  Last year's Jazz FM awards was a memorable occasion, with...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny, Ezra Collective, Esperanza and Nubya Garcia among winners at fifth Jazz FM Awards

Pat Metheny, Ezra Collective, Esperanza …

The winners of this year's Jazz FM Awards were announced...

Read More.....
OFFBEAT Jazz and Cinema Fest goes French

OFFBEAT Jazz and Cinema Fest goes French

A new weekend-long jazz on film event, the OFFBEAT Jazz...

Read More.....
Avishai Cohen Quartet deliver testaments to truth and beauty at Ronnie's

Avishai Cohen Quartet deliver testaments…

The first of two sold-out gigs by the Avishai Cohen...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

RT @staceyalanjazz: Here’s to Life! #1 on Amazon, Top 10 Billboard, Top 10 iTunes Jazz! We’re donating all proceeds from our single “Here's…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Boggamasta boogie on down at Brussels Jazz Weekend https://t.co/Mozckxd28r https://t.co/PuMR2ygW0N
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA