It’s a strong Norwegian focus at this year’s Gateshead International Jazz Festival in the UK that runs from 17 - 20 March. The roster includes such vital acts as Nils Petter Molvær, Arve Henriksen, Brazz Brothers and Sidsel Endresen.
The Gateshead International Jazz Festival is new to the impressive The Sage Gateshead venue in 2005.
The line-up spans the whole range of contemporary jazz, with the spotlight this year on great piano players. There’s the legendary McCoy Tyner with his only UK gig in 2005; EST (Esbjörn Svensson Trio) lauching their new CD; the UK’s iconoclast of the keyboard; Matthew Bourne; Stan Tracey, an icon of British jazz; Italy’s Rita Mrcoutulli. The strong European dimension has a marked Nordic focus celebrating links with Norway and Sweden; as well as EST the Festival includes Arve Henriksen, Brazz Brothers, Sidsel Endresen, Christian Wallumrød and Stian Carstensen.
The Gateshead International Jazz Festival will be an annual event and is organised in collaboration with the international music producers, Serious.
Brazz Brothers (18 Mar 8:00 pm)
This co-commission by The Sage Gateshead and Vossa Jazz Festival, Norway, brings together the Northeast's favourite traditional musician, Kathryn Tickell and her band with the brilliant and internationally acclaimed Norwegian brass six-piece band, making a rare British appearance.
Brazz bros are something of a legend in the world of brass, but their fame spreads far beyond: they've worked throughout the world, and with equal enthusiasm, with brass bands, jazz ensembles, folk groups, African musicians, symphony orchestras and more - virtuoso players with a wealth of imagination, warmth and originality. No stranger to musical collaboration herself, Kathryn Tickell brings the sometimes haunting, often dancing, always lyrical sound of the Northumbrian pipes to the partnership.
Listen to and download Brazz Brothers' releases here.
Nils Petter Molvær (19 Mar 5:45 pm)
Nils Petter Molvær is a pivotal link in the musical chain of contemporary Norwegian music, a trumpeter who used the inspiration of the electric Miles Davis and a background of master musicians from his own country - Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal - to create his own unique soundscapes. A sophisticated and atmospheric command of new electronica, transformed through beats and DJ interventions from the dancefloor sets the scene for plaintive trumpet solos and driving, unstoppable rhythm tracks. His new solo performances, with specially devised visuals, receives its UK premiere here.
Listen to and download Nils Petter Molvær's releases here.
Stian Carstensen and Iain Ballamy (19 Mar 7:30 pm)
Quirky and offbeat, the duo of UK saxophone hero Iain Ballamy and Norwegian accordionist Stian Carstensen opens the concert with Esbjorn Svensson Trio. Playing music that takes a whole fascinating path through folk traditions, reinvented standards and improvisation of the highest order, the duo never fail to bring a warmth and wit to their ever-engaging performances. Ballamy has been a fixture on the UK scene since his days with Loose Tubes and a string of fine bands of his own; Carstensen is one of a select community of accordionists who have rewritten the old clichés and taken the instrument into a twenty-first century dimension.
Listen to and download releases from Stian Carstensen's Farmers Market project here.
Sidsel Endresen and Christian Wallumrød (20 Mar 2:30 pm)
The contribution of Sidsel Endresen to the evolution of a distinctive Norwegian vocal tradition that ranges through free improvisation and resonances of folk song and jazz is immeasurable. Well known in the UK for her work with Django Bates and her recent tour with Bugge Wesseltoft, she creates a beautifully crafted improvised music which has inspired a host of younger singers. Christian Wallumrød has gathered praise for his ECM recordings - a reflective and lyrical pianist whose daring use of space allows his playing to float in an intangibly delicate universe, he complements Sidsel's style to perfection - their CD 'Merriwinkle' is an intriguing snapshot of their live performances together.
Listen to and download Sidsel Endresen releases here.
Arve Henriksen (20 Mar 3:15 - 4:15 pm)
Fast becoming recognised as one of the most innovative of the current Norwegian generation, Arve Henriksen can be heard in a myriad of settings, with cult techno-improvisers Supersilent, with composer Trygve Seim, with Iain Ballamy, on a recent CMN tour with Dhafer Youssef and many more. But his solo concerts are something else - voice and trumpet are set within a mix of natural and electronic sound, an imagined world resonant of Nordic skies and the ethereal landscape of the Far East. A charismatic and enchanting performer.
Listen to and download Arve Henriksen releases here.
The Sage Gateshead
St Mary's Square
Box Office: 0870 703 4555
The Sage Gateshead is a stunning £70 million home for live music consisting of two concert halls, Northern Rock Foundation Hall for rehearsal and community performance, a twenty-five room Music Education Centre, ExploreMusic a music information resource centre in the Joan and Margaret Halbert space, The Barbour Room – a sunny entertainment room, plus studios, bars, a café and a brasserie. You can enter the building free – up to 16 hours a day, 365 days a year. The spectacular concourse has river views of the Tyne and Gateshead Millennium Bridges, BALTIC and the Newcastle Gateshead Quays.