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Walking in the "modern"


Oslo Jazz Festival is still the one that best takes care of all jazz styles, but this year the festival made a leap into the world of rap and funk by incorporating Youth Against Drugs' stage on Stortorget. There was a quarter of the festival's program features.

Thus, the Oslo festival competes with what Molde jazz festival was, when it was criticized for sailing under the false flag with its third of "ujazz". It does not bother me that people are rapping on Stortorget for a good cause, but when presented as part of a jazz festival, it can cause conceptual confusion in the public. Furthermore, this does not bother me in a festival where there is still more good jazz to hear than a simple soul can overcome.

In the festival report two years ago, I tried to distinguish between the predictable and the unpredictable – and had of course been looking for the latter. Last year, I divided the festival into the "recognizable" and the "searching" – looking for both genres because both have value. This year, I simply concentrated on what is still called "modern jazz", that is, music with role models in bop, cool and the 60's revolution; it contains everything, the predictable, the unpredictable, the recognizable and the searching.

Each place

As a number of other festivals, Oslo has largely its own venues for each type of music. I mentioned Stortorget with rap and rock. The festival's old main scene, Stortorvets Gjästgiveri, is for old jazz, while Blå, Herr Nilsen and Scene West Victoria are the most important scenes for modern jazz. Therefore, these three became my most visited. Which did not stop me from stopping by ten other premises in the hectic hike of the uk in the capital's soundtrack.

All three main scenes of modern jazz are catered for by an interested and listening audience. In Victoria, Solveig Slettahjell could earn a deserved hearing for unbridled singing in front of its minimalist "slow-moving quintet". It was also a little stressed in the meeting between Carsten Dahl, Lars Danielsson and Cæcilie Norby. However, the latter is not entirely free from its Danish-English diction. The concert with jubilants Einar Iversen (75), Tore Jensen, Bjørn Pedersen and Totti Bergh (70) showed that age is not an obstacle to meaningful music, on the contrary. Traditional jazz trumpeter Tore Jensen was clearly excited in the encounter with a bop competition, but that style mix was far from a problem.

The brothers Nymo's quintet, age 26-30, gave a strong display of young street jazz. Drummer Håkon Mjåset Johansen noted with a mixture of softness and intensity that is special. The stylish meeting with Lee Konitz and a third of the old New Cool Quartet featured melodic improvisational art at the advanced level. The night before at Cosmopolite, Konitz was a little more groggy and gave a not quite uplifting impression, which was thus repaired on the last night of the festival.

Nilsen and Blue

On Monday Nilsen opened Monday with a Danish quartet with Jesper Thilo in front, an age spread of about 40 years and with elder Alex Riel as an incredibly vital drummer. On Saturday, Dick Hyman gave a two-hour solo demonstration of historical piano art before Maria Kannegaard's trio held a late-night concert with her distinctive dense sounds within a limited section of the keyboard; she rarely moved across a single-scale scale.

Occasionally Nilsen had had visits from the contemporary groups «Revolver» and «Dingobats», both with bassist Mats Eilertsen. Without me counting carefully, he must be named the festival's inspiring regular. In addition to the two mentioned (Tuesday and Wednesday), he played with Solveig Slettahjell on Tuesday afternoon, with Lee Konitz on Friday, and was early this week the leader of the project "Youth & Jazz 2005", which on Blue Saturday afternoon demonstrated what they had learned. The youth ended with free editions of Monk's "Evidence" and Mingus' "Haitian fight song" – central works from the middle of jazz history.

Club Blue offered youth groups outdoors five afternoons and was a nice gathering place on the riverfront. My great experience in the evening was Peter Brötzmann's hourly band with four sax, trumpet, tuba, cello, bass and two percussionists. An energy discharge!

As written before: There is no need to go into detail in a weekly newspaper as long after the daily newspapers have brought it. Of course, unfair to all the other fine jazz it was worth describing.

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