First lady of Norwegian jazz, Karin Krog, has recently visited Japan. And she does not stop to impress her audience. Interested in what the Japanese thought of her music? Read further on.
She never seems tired of travelling. This was her fifth trip to Japan since 1970, and accompanying Krog was Jacob Young, an accomplished Norwegian guitarist and composer. Together they performed at the Nakanoshima Euro Jazz Renaissance festival 2003, as well as a couple of clubs, such as Satin Doll, one of Tokyo’s most prestigious jazz venues. Maybe the Renaissance festival is to blame, or the re-release of several of her early records, but Karin Krog sensed a strong fascination for her music from the 60’s and 70’s in Tokyo and Osaka.
“They were very interested in my earlier music, and asked me lots of questions about old electronic jazz, which I experimented with at an early stage”, says Karin Krog.
It was Don Ellis, the celebrated jazz trumpeter, composer and band leader who originally gave Krog the idea that she should explore the relationship between her voice and electronics - live. Krog stresses live, not in studio, where the risk of blunders is much smaller. For years, she experienced with the Oberheim modulator. Oberheim was a highly reputed manufacturer of electronic music effects devices.
Young and old styles
These days, Krog is still open-minded, and is collaborating with musicians a couple of generations younger than herself, such as Espen Horn aka Bobby Hughes Combination. On nhu golden era (2002), Krog is featured on Karins Kerma. But she is also doing more traditional jazz recordings. Her latest album is released on the ENJA label. Produced by John Surman, it consists of 11 compositions, three with lyrics by Krog and is recorded in New York. It is called Where You At?
But now, back to Japan. When asked by a Japanese journalist if she noticed any change in the Japanese audience, she replied positively.
“I think the Japanese audience is more responsive now. Before they were rather reserved and it was not easy to know if the music is coming through to them. I can say they’ve become more open to showing appreciation”.
Her companion Jacob Young continued: “For the second set we were playing low in volume. It’s always a good test to see if the audience is paying attention. And tonight they really were, and nobody was making any noise during our performance, it was really quiet especially during the ballads. Then some up-tempo songs start and they start talking, but that’s okay”.
Soft silky voice
Tatsurou Ueda from the Global Artist Network described Krog and Young’s performance this way:
“It was the second stage of the night, and the show began with a Norwegian traditional lullaby Bån Sull sang a cappella by Karin Krog alone. The soft silky voice of Karin filled the air and fell lightly on the audience like nourishing rain. Next was a solo piece Å, Den Som Var En Løvetann played by Jacob Young on his Yamaha AEX-1500. With the soft, round tone in the vein of Jim Hall, the sweet melodies of the slow ballad spread through the venue where everyone listened attentively”.
Enthusiastic words, no doubt. And Karin Krog will also continue to spread her music globally next year. 22 -25 January, she and her trio (Vigleik Storaas, piano,Terje Venaas, bass, and Tom Olstad, drums) are heading east again to perform at the International Festival of World Music in Calcutta, India.