Jazzy history 2

Yet another chapter in the Norwegian jazz history is documented. Two new CDs from the Norwegian Jazz Archives and Herman Records are released, featuring jazz from 1960 – 1980. 25 of the tracks have not been available on CD before. Here is the second article in the series about 1970-1980.

Jazz in Norway - Foot prints (2003)

To give you a thorough tour of 20 swinging years, MIC will present two articles about the periods, written by the Norwegian Jazz Archive. Jazz in Norway 1970 – 1980 is the second, the first is available here. The two CDs, as well as information about how to order the records are available on the Norwegian Jazz Archive’s English web site.

Foot prints: Jazz in Norway 1970-1980

By the arrival of the 1970s there was enthusiastic optimism in Norwegian jazz circles. The 1960s had been a turbulent period with great changes in public support; many had deserted jazz in favour of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and poetry, beat and soul, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. The network of jazz clubs had partly deteriorated, and
jazz had to find new homes. However, the jazz milieu had developed a new awareness. The John Coltrane Quartet and Miles Davis Quintet had established new standards for jazz music. Innovators like Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and Albert Ayler had created new free forms. Jazz had been transformed from entertainment and music for dancing to art music – music for listening to.

This new awareness was noticeable in Norway. The jazz musicians’ own organization, Norsk Jazzforum, had been working to have jazz accepted by the authorities, having in the late sixties arranged concerts in fora usually restricted to classical music. The jazz festivals of Molde (from 1961) and Kongsberg (from 1964) had become permanent institutions. Norwegian jazz musicians frequented recording studios and embarked on international careers – ambitious artists like Karin Krog, Jon Christensen, Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen (Buddy-award recipients 1965-69) and others.

New radicalism
Besides, society had been marked by political radicalism. The US engagement in Vietnam, race riots and student riots had given rise to anti-American attitudes. During the 1970s these, along with the debate on the fledgling European Union, engendered political polarization, especially in the younger generation. The 1960s had given us new idols, free jazz forms, Latin-American impulses, a rhythm & blues renaissance, soul, oriental mysticism, psychedelic elements and absurd happenings. In 1969 Miles Davis recorded “Bitches Brew” and Tony Williams initiated the “Life Time” group – thus a new type of fusion music was created, called jazz-rock.

This music was to characterize most of the 1970s, together with a synthesis of the various styles of the 60s. And side by side with the avant-garde proponents, the boppers, swing veterans and traditionalists thrived. Many of the older swing and mainstream musicians, born in the 1920s, were still active, such as Rowland Greenberg, Kristian Bergheim and Øistein Ringstad. Bjarne Nerem and Andreas Skjold returned home (1973 and 1975 respectively) after many successful years in Sweden. A number of musicians had continued to evolve from their point of departure in the bebop, cool and mainstream music of the 1950s, e.g. Einar Iversen, Atle Hammer, Totti Bergh, Erik Amundsen, Karin Krog, Harald Bergersen, Alf Erling Kjellman, Svein-Erik Gaardvik, Frode Thingnæs, Bjørn Johansen, Ole Jacob Hansen, Egil Kapstad, Laila Dalseth, Erik Andresen, Svein Christiansen and Ditlef Eckoff in Oslo, Eivin Sannes at the west coast, Kalle Holst, Kjell Johansen, Asmund Bjørken and Ove Stokstad in Trondheim, all born 1930-1942 and all of course extremely active and

ECM, the door opener
The 1960s had spawned young talents like Torgrim Sollid, Jon Christensen, Bernt Steen, Roy Hellvin, Calle Neumann, Terje Bjørklund, Bjørnar Andresen, Svein Finnerud, Christian Reim, Arild Andersen, Knut Riisnæs, Terje Venaas, Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal and Espen Rud in Oslo, Øystein Søbstad in Bergen, Bjørn Alterhaug and Tore Engstrøm in Trondheim, just to mention some – all born 1942-1948.

The star group at the beginning of the 1970s was no doubt the Jan Garbarek Quartet (1969-1972) with Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen. It opened the door for Norwegian jazz musicians to the ECM recording company and provided important international exposure. In 1971 guitarist Terje Rypdal formed his own group, first with Jon
Christensen and young musicians Sveinung Hovensjø (bass) and Brynjulf Blix (keyboards); the group later took the name Terje Rypdal’s Odyssey, with changes in the composition of the group. In 1974 bassist Arild Andersen formed his own quartet with Knut Riisnæs on tenor sax and the 18-year-old talents Jon Balke (keyboards) and Pål Thowsen (drums), maintained through out the 70s with some changes. Garbarek and Christensen continued their collaboration; from 1973 along with Bobo Stenson, Palle Danielsson, Keith Jarrett and other international names.

The Club 7 environment
Another recognized group early in the decade was the Svein Finnerud Trio (1967-74) with Bjørnar Andresen and Espen Rud, sometimes expanded to a quartet with Calle Neumann or the young guitarist Jon Eberson (b. 1953). In the Club 7 environment in Oslo several groups were established in the interface between jazz-rock, ethno-jazz and free form, e.g. Moose Loose (1973-77), Lotus (1976-83), E’Olen (1976-81) and other up-and-coming musicians like Radka Toneff (vocal), Erik Balke (alto sax), Vidar Johansen (tenor sax), Odd Riisnæs (tenor sax), Rune Klakegg (piano), Bjørn Kjellemyr (bass), Finn Sletten (drums), and Guttorm Guttormsen (alto sax and flute), all born 1950-55.

In the vibrant jazz milieu of Trondheim other talented young musicians were exposing themselves, e.g. Per Husby (piano), John Pål Inderberg (saxes) and Carl Haakon Waadeland (drums), in Bergen Harald Halvorsen (trombone), Dag Arnesen (piano) and Frank Jakobsen (drums), while Erling Aksdal (piano) made his way from Molde to Bergen, Oslo and Berklee, USA.

Parallel with the modernist activity, traditional jazz was also gaining ground in the 1970s. Older bands like The Big Chief Jazzband (from 1952), Royal Garden Jazzband (from 1955), Vannebos Dixielandband (from 1959), Stokstad/Jensen Trad Band (from 1962) and Knut Audum’s Jazzband (from 1963) still existed. In 1970 Christiania Jazzband was formed, two
years later Knut Audum’s orchestra was reorganized as the Magnolia Jazzband, and the New Orleans Workshop, the traditionalists’ home in Oslo, was established. In 1973 Ytre Suløen Jazzensemble arose, followed by trad bands in Ørlandet, Molde, Hamar, Bergen and several in Oslo. The milieu included veterans like Bonsak Schieldrop, Svein Almquist and Tore
Jensen, and teenagers like ragtime pianist Morten Gunnar Larsen (b.1955) and multi-instrumentalist Per Frydenlund (b. 1958). In this connection it is also worth mentioning that Per Borthen Swing Dept. Ltd.(from 1966) continued its enthusiastic activities throughout the decade – and still exists along with most of the trad bands.

Increased jazz activities
Club activities also expanded considerably throughout these years, particularly from 1972, when the number of clubs almost doubled. Amalienborg Jazzhus became the first daily jazz venue in 1973; activities increased all over Norway, and by the end of the decade there were more than 75 jazz clubs or places regularly featuring jazz. Molde and Kongsberg were no more the only festival cities; festivals and jazz weekends were established in Arendal, Fredrikstad, Kongsvinger, Voss, Stavanger, Bergen and Lillehammer. The decade ended with the foundation of the Association of Norwegian Jazz Musicians in 1979 – and a working
committee for establishing a Norwegian Jazz Archive was appointed.

Thus, all the signals pointed to an upward trend. While the recording of a Norwegian jazz LP was a sensation in the 1960s, record production increased through the 1970s to around 20 jazz LPs a year. The USA had pulled out of Vietnam, the consumer society was growing, there were those who lamented the disco culture and general couldn’t-care-less attitude, jazz was surfing on the crest of a wave of affluence – where was this all going to end?

In the 1970s the Norwegian Jazz Federation’s highest distinction, the Buddy award, was given to Frode Thingnæs (1970), Calle Neumann (1971), Asmund Bjørken (1972), no awards 1973-74, Bjørn Alterhaug (1975), Laila Dalseth (1976), Egil Kapstad (1977), Kristian Bergheim (1978) and Guttorm Guttormsen (1979).

Bjørn Stendahl

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