Theater of Cruelty

Progressive and acoustic


One of the new jazz record companies in Norway is called Jazzaway. It came out with its first record just over two years ago, and now the one-man company has 19 releases in the catalog – modern, expressive and progressive acoustic music where the purpose is something far more interesting than just to please.

The band Jazzmob was active at several jazz clubs in Oslo in the autumn of 1998 – live recordings from there were released on a CD with the pretentious title The Truth. The record company called itself "Be bop or be dead" – we understand that it was about deadly and uncompromising jazz. Among the musicians were alto saxophonist Jon Klette, tenor saxophonist Gisle Johansen, bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad.

A new recording with Jazzmob was made in the fall of 2001. But was it too tough music for the record companies? At least it wasn't released until bandleader Jon Klette took the case into his own hands and started the company Jazzaway. Directory number JARCD001 was given the title Pathfinder, and offered intense music with roots in 60s musicians such as Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane, ie unpolarized acoustic jazz with its own drive and vitality. Jazzmob's compositions were largely signed by Klette. New pianist in the band was Anders Aarum, a brilliant musician who suddenly appeared in Oslo in 1998 and was dragged into all the bands he was given time to play in, a musician that "cheesy jazz feel" and who impressed with substantial melodic thinking .

Far from mountain jazz

Catalog number 2 offered music that had waited even longer – it was a live recording from the jazz festival in Molde 1976 with the legendary Christian Reim / Kalle Neumann quartet, also known for their uncompromising and honest jazz music. Catalog number 3 was with the Trondheim group Dingobats, with Eirik Hegdal as the dominant composer in the band's third album, called Follow. The company's fourth release was with the Anders Aarum trio, Absence in Mind, reported in Ny Tid in November 2004.

Jazzaway had released nine CDs before the end of 2004. The last five were fresh releases with young Norwegian jazz. The groups Trinity and The Core are both fronted by tenor and soprano saxophonist Kjetil Møster, who this weekend (January 14) is in the United States to receive the International Jazz Award for New Talents IJFO, that is, the international festival organization has named him world best jazz musician under 30 years! In the albums Sparkling (JARCD005) and Vision (006), energy and expressiveness have assumed dimensions that prove that not all Norwegian music is ethereal «mountain jazz».

In the group Bayashi's album Rock (007) it is admittedly only the drummer Thomas Strønen who is a young man, but the veterans Bjørnar Andresen (bass) and Vidar Johansen (saxophones, bass clarinet and flute) are vital gentlemen with a progressive view of music. On the album Mortana (008) are two young electronics snus players from Stavanger, Morten Olsen and Anders Hana, who have made a recording in New York with the saxophonist and bass clarinetist Andrew D'Angelo. On JARCD009, lines from Jazzmob, Trinity, Bayashi and Morthana were coiled together in the ten-man Crimetime Orchestra, into a rather avant-garde suite called Life is a Beautiful monster, dedicated to Bjørnar Andresen, who died just three weeks after the recording.

American avant-garde

In 2005, Little Jazzaway released ten CDs. There was still a focus on young Norwegian acoustic jazz with the groups Roundtrip (the album Two Way Street, JARCD010), MZN3 (again with Møster, CD013), Eirik Hegdal with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra (We Are?, 014), Shagma Music (015) and Solid! (016). But contact is established with what is moving in the underground of the American avant-garde, preferably in New York. Veteran Sonny Simmons (alto saxophone and English horn), especially active in the 60's, was in Oslo in the autumn of 2004, came back and made the record The Traveler (JARCD011) together with Norwegian musicians. The Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik took two American musicians on a European tour and recorded the live album Tone Collector (JARCD012). Jazzaway's releases 17 and 18 take the pulse directly on New York through two recordings from August, The Calling with baritone saxophonist Alex Harding and his The Bluetopia Ensemble and Playground with the Transylvanian pianist Lucian Ban and American musicians in the constellation Asymmetry. Something to listen to for those who are interested in what is happening in a country where jazz musicians are extremely far away from the Bush regime.

Jazzaway's latest album, Planet Poing (JARCD019) takes us out into another world, it is young Norwegian musicians with a partial jazz background who perform contemporary music by the composers Maja Ratkje, Sachito Tsurumi and others.

For those who have interests beyond progressive music, such as creative graphic design, several of Jazzaway's productions are interesting. About half of the textbooks are designed by Nick Alexander with a playful and vital drawing art that fits well with the musical message.

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