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Bjergsted Jazzensemble featuring vintage Garbarek and Mingus gems

  • Lørdag 13. mai
  • 13:00
  • Stavangeren
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A rarely performed Jan Garbarek work with a sprinkling of classic Charles Mingus tracks – that is what´s on the menu when Bjergsted Jazzensemble take to the stage at Stavangeren on Saturday, 13th. May.

The story behind the Garbarek piece is an amusing one, dating back to 1987. On Saturday, 25th. April of the same year, the Norwegian Jazz Musicians´ Association (FNJ) arranged a large jazz event at Musikkens hus in Oslo, with more than a dozen Norwegian top bands in action from 1 pm until midnight. The icing on the cake was the first ever performance of a piece which FNJ had commissioned Jan Garbarek to compose, and the untitled work, written for 14 musicians, was played for two packed venues, as well as for the hundred or so members of the public who had gathered outside the windows to listen.

Almost a month later, the piece was soundproofed at NRK´s radio studio 19 by the flautists/clarinetists Guttorm Guttormsen, Vidar Johansen, Harald Bergersen and Nils Jansen, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær, trombonists Tony Ascanio, Henning Johnsen and Torbjørn Sunde, guitarist Eivind Aarset, keyboardist Jan Gunnar Hoff, bass player Tor Mathisrud, and percussionists Finn Sletten, Paolo Vinaccia and Rob Waring. Christian Eggen was the music director, as he also was at Jazzhuset, and the recording was played on P1´s “Jazzklubben” on 25th. June, entitled “For your entertainment – from Jan.”

Missing notes
Since then, the piece has hardly been heard or played – that is, until the radio recording showed up in some dark and dusty corner of the internet, giving Maijazz General Per Hasse Andersen the idea to breathe new life into the piece, 36 years on from its premiere, using fresh talent from Bjergsted. Maijazz and Bjergsted Jazzensemble have a long history of extremely successful joint projects behind them, and on this occasion too, Bjergsted´s frontman, Tor Yttredal, was more than happy to oblige. There was just one minor problem: the music was nowhere to be found. Even Jan Garbarek himself carried out an enthusiastic search of the loft, alas to no avail, and so the final solution to the dilemma was to engage trumpeter par excellence and Bjergsted colleague Tore Johansen, to transcribe the radio recording.

Happy music
So just what kind of music did Jan Garbarek deliver to the Norwegian Jazz Musicians´ Association in 1987? This was around the time that the 40-year old saxophonist and composer was touring with a new quartet (Lars Jansson, Eberhard Weber and Nana Vasconcelos) and was playing music from his solo album “All Those Born With Wings”, as well as other former “hits”. He was also busily promoting new theatrical music, but the FNJ piece was different, even if Garbarek connoisseurs must feel free to listen out for traces of both past and future Garbarek tunes throughout. Two days after the concert at Oslo Jazzhus, the undersigned attempted to describe the music in a review featured in “Dagbladet” Here is what I wrote, in part…

“…at first like an insouciant, inviting little melody, like the prelude to a little Neapolitan children´s ballet, almost, before becoming bigger and a little more wonderingly pensive, before treating itself to some unrestrained samba rhythms, throwing in some gruff backbeats, and all-in-all behaving in a most un-Norwegian manner. Resonant, too: a flute, three clarinets, three trombones, a trumpet, keyboards, bass and three percussionists can produce both a janissary music-like brass base and a South-American style “nicely out of tune” street festival music, and if this sounds like a keen observation, it is because the composer himself has suggested that he is fond of this type of music, which bears all the traits of virile macho bragging, endless melancholy and jet-black agony all on one music sheet. Happy Garbarek music, in other words.”

Whether the new version of the piece proves true to the description remains to be heard, but either way, the performance is set to be quite the occasion. What´s more, the concert promises to be even more thrilling thanks to the Bjergsted Ensemble´s plan to supplement Garbarek´s happy music with some carefully chosen compositions by Charles Mingus (1922-1979), the legendary American bassist, composer and band leader. Tunes such as “Better Git It In Your Soul”, “Haitian Fight Song”, “Moanin´”, “Fables of Faubus” and “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” all belong to the postmodern jazz era of the late fifties and early sixties, but they also have ties with earlier jazz eras. As with all great works of art, their melodious might is a timeless testimony to their era.

Enjoy yourselves at Stavangeren. This concert looks set to go down in the history of Maijazz, and more!

– Terje Mosnes

Time and place:
Saturday, 13th. May, 13.00 hrs., at Stavangeren

Photo: Svein Erik Fylkesnes