Norwegian jazz in Tokyo

The Japanese jazz audience is in for a week that features some of Norwegian jazz' strongest performers: Silje Nergaard, Tord Gustavsen trio, Atomic, Farmers Market and Pohlitz.

Thomas Strønen / Pohlitz

The concerts at the 2005 Norwegian Jazz Week which runs from 8 to13 April in Tokyo will be held at two main stages: the major Aichi Expo dome and a club stage at Pit Inn in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The roster for the 2005 Norwegian Jazz Week is literally a who’s who on the Norwegian jazz scene with such heavyweights as Silje Nergaard, Tord Gustavsen trio, Atomic, Farmers Market and Pohlitz/Thomas Strønen.

Silje Nergaard

The reigning jazz queen of Norway brings her trusted ensemble and a set of new tunes to the Norwegian Jazz Week . Silje Nergaard has, within the last seven years, established herself as one of the most original and most interesting artists working within the European jazz arena. Her latest album release, "Nightwatch" (2003, Universal Music), is her eighth album recording. Recorded in Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden, Silje Nergaard further develops her unique brand of strong melodic jazz in sophisticated arrangements, flavoured by a voice which the UK Independent has called:

"…a captivating, viola-rich timbre, played with plenty of resin on the bow so that she cuts emphatically into each note, but with perfect control. There is a candy-sweetness to her voice, but this candy is not for children. It's after-dinner candy, with black coffee and the promise of what is to follow."

Tord Gustavsen trio

The Tord Gustavsen ECM release 'The Ground' has been a veritable success story since it's domestic and international release in January. At home, the release made its way to the top of the national sales charts, the VG lista top 40, traditionally a popular music domain. Abroad, the release has also fared well, picking up a number of very strong reviews, particularly in the UK.

The trio is made up of piano player Gustavsen, bassist Harald Johnsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad. The same line-up can also be found supporting chart-topping jazz vocalist Silje Nergaard live on her domestic and international tours. All musicians share a background from the prestigious Jazz course at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.


Atomic's second album, "Boom, Boom" (Jazzland Acoustic, 2003) followed up on its predecessor, "Feet Music", with intense playing, challenging compositions and an abundance of raw energy. Featuring own compositions as well as Hindemith's Praeludium and Radiohead's Pyramid Song, "Boom, Boom" stands out as one of 2003's strongest Norwegian jazz releases. Says central sax player Ken Vandermark on the collective's outing: "To my ears everything the band plays sounds as if it belongs in the jazz milieu (even their fantastic reinterpretation of Radiohead's "The Pyramid Song" makes sense in this context), yet somehow none of it sounds dated, Atomic isn't playing someone else's music form another place and time, this I work that is personal and thoroughly creative in the NOW. Their music is the sound of creative risks being made in real time, and you can't do this if you're obsessed with re-creating and imitating the music of the past."

Atomic's debut album "Feet Music" (Jazzland Acoustic 2002) presented a vital and central instalment of exciting and creative new jazz from Bugge Weseltoft's adventurous Oslo based Jazzland label. "Debut of the year!" John Fordham in The Guardian (UK) described the music and the musicians as "One of the most exhilarating new groups on the European circuit!" One of the key bands of the 'new wave' of Scandinavian jazz currently attracting much press attention, Atomic brings together five important young musicians from the adventurous jazz underground of Sweden and Norway. Formed in spring 1999, they quickly forged a strong group identity without sacrificing individual freedom of expression. Combining the powerful, cutting edge Oslo rhythm section of Håvard Wiik on piano, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums - a combination that received rave notices as the rhythm team of the Coltrane-influenced 'cult' group Element - with the Stockholm front-line of trumpeter Magnus Broo and saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist, this group are one of the freshest acoustic ensembles to have emerged in the new millennium.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market was started in Trondheim during the fall of 1991.The members where all students of the Jazz Department at the Conservatory of Trondheim. What started out as a free-jazz quintet, soon found itself heading in a completely different direction; Bulgarian folk-music. This music, with its odd meters, oriental scales and improvisational possibilities, has become one of the main ingredients of "The Farmers Music". The music is a mixture of Bulgarian folk music, jazz standards, popular music and humour

In Norway Farmers Marked soon became known as the epitome of musicianship and the paragon of sheer musical energy and creativity. They put a face to undomesticated, untamed pure playing; of genre-fusion and melange; a tempest of played music.

This is due to the unequalled performances of each member, but perhaps even more to the choice of repertoire and the attitude towards their expression. Fascination for, and heavy influence from, Slavic traditional music and its affinity to gipsy music has given Farmers Marked the distinct quality of utter "yeay-saying"; the unrivalled "lust-for-life" all-embracing gesture that is to be found in the fatalistically conditioned loss of control that seems to be the essential nature of the wildest music of the Balkans.

Pohlitz/Thomas Strønen

Pohlitz is drummer/percussionist par excellence Thomas Strønen’s new solo project. Strønen is yet another top performer with a background from the Jazz Department at the Conservatory of Trondheim and has devoted his energy and jaw-dropping technical skills to such projects and bands as Strønen/Storløkken, Food, Bayashi and Parish. Strønen has also collaborated with heavyweight perfomers Lars Danielson, Bobo Stenson, Arve Henriksen, Bjørnar Andresen, Vidar Johansen and Fredrik Ljungkvist to name a few.

While previous outings and performances have been predominantly acoustic, Pohlitz represents a turn to a more electronic side with Strønen mastering various digital gadgets in addition to his acoustic percussion set-up. Expect a fiery of electronics and drumsticks – this is new and fresh.

More info on venues, tickets and dates can be found on the Norwegian Embassy in Japan’s web-site.

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