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Norwegian Jazz Launch 2011

Norwegian Jazz Launch is a launch programme for the new generation of jazz musicians. In 2011 the programme includes Karl Seglem, Frøy Aagre, Mari Kvien Brunvoll and Stian Westerhus.

Norwegian Jazz Launch is a launch programme for Norwegian jazz musicians. The aim of the programme is to further develop the positive reputation new, Norwegian improvised music has attained internationally. The launch programme focuses on financial travel support, marketing, and booking to central international jazz clubs and festivals.

Norwegian Jazz Launch is a cooperation between Concerts Norway, The West Norway Jazz Centre and Norwegian Jazz Forum. The project receives financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a sum of NOK 1 050 000 divided over the project’s period, 2010-2012. The 2011 launch programme includes vocalist Mari Kvien Brunvoll, guitarist Stian Westerhus and saxophone players Karl Seglem and Frøy Aagre.

Mari Kvien Brunvoll
Mari Kvien Brunvoll was born in Molde, on the west coast of Norway. She recently completed her jazz vocal studies at the Grieg Academy in Bergen, but is already a strong voice on the Norwegian music scene and has performed at many jazz festivals and jazz clubs across Europe. Brunvoll was awarded the Nattjazz Talent Award for 2009. The jury described her as “a performer with a very personal expression and a unique, intimate interaction with the audience – a fully-fledged artist despite her young age”.

Brunvoll uses her voice in a free and playful manner to create unique and very personal soundscapes. She writes the music and most of the lyrics herself, and uses live sampling of her voice in variety of ways including percussion, noise, choir and bass line. She also uses the kalimba, zither and a range of percussion instruments. Her performances combine composed and improvised sound, and are often developed in response to the atmosphere in the room. This creates a unique level of communication with the audience.

In recent years, Brunvoll has participated in performing arts projects for children and adults, both as musician and as a part of the choreography. In addition to her solo performances, she also plays in a duo constellation with Stein Urheim (various string instruments, vocals, electronics, etc.). She has also performed with Terje Isungset in some of his ice concerts.

Her stylistic references are many, ranging from Norwegian and ethnic folk music to contemporary music, and from jazz to electronica. Mari Kvien Brunvoll stands out as an innovative and creative artist, who is not tied to any pre-defined genre.

Karl Seglem
Karl Seglem was born in Årdalstangen, Sogn, in Western Norway, and currently lives in Oslo. His music is powerful and original. He sweeps across a broad canvas, including the borderline between folk and jazz. Some listeners compare him to Jan Garbarek and Mari Boine, while others feel he has created an entirely new “universe”. Seglem has played an important role on the Norwegian jazz scene since the late 80s and his CD production as of 2011 counts 27 albums.

At an early stage in his career, he became interested in new perspectives and crossing the boundaries between genres. He has a special interest in Norwegian folk music, which he has explored deeply as a basis for improvisation and composition.

His main instrument is the tenor saxophone, but he has also become well known for his use of goat horns. This has great symbolic power of course, but is far from being a mere gimmick. For Seglem is much more than an instrumentalist, he has extensive experience as a composer, developing new contemporary sounds based on jazz, folk music and more eclectic inspirations. He has also been instrumental in the growth of cross-over projects as a producer and record label manager. His international renown has grown steadily and his tetralogy of solo releases Femstein, Urbs, NORSKjazz.no and Ossicles in particular has captivated international critics and audiences. These are fine examples of the masterly way he mixes goat horns and other traditional instruments – notably the Hardanger fiddle – with a plethora of modern and eclectic elements: electronic loops, jazz improvisation, and elements of world music and rock.

Seglem was awarded the Norwegian Jazz Forum’s Buddy price in 2010.

Frøy Aagre
Norwegian saxophonist Frøy Aagre was born in Tønsberg and currently lives in Oslo. She is an emerging star on the European scene.

Aagre’s Nordic Jazz creates an expectant calm, sharpens perception and opens up distances that provide space to breathe. Her recent album Cycle of Silence has a dream-like quality. Her warm saxophone sound and seductive lyricism captivate the listener and fuse naturally with the contributions from the other members of her exquisitely rhythmic group. The composed and the improvised join to form a harmonious whole. Modern jazz elements are skilfully intertwined with classical references, and special guests also add their individual touch.

Aagre has studied classical and jazz saxophone alongside Indonesian gamelan music in Birmingham. She has been part of London’s vibrant jazz scene, learnt tango in Buenos Aires, and studied with David Liebman in New York. These years have given her a broad perspective. Indeed, one of her favourite composers is Johann Sebastian Bach. Aagre also studied 20th century composition techniques at the Norwegian Academy of Music, including Schonberg’s methods and Messiaen’s synaesthesia.

“Regardless of whether you are a jazz fan or not…” Norwegian radio warmly recommended Frøy Aagre’s debut album, Katalyze, to all its listeners in 2004. The daily newspaper Dagsavisen rated her second album, Countryside, as one of the top ten jazz albums of 2007, noting the richness of its composition and melodies, and its great imaginative scope.

Her first ACT album, Cycle of Silence, has received excellent reviews from the international media, with particular praise for her “special gift of blending the beautiful and haunting with the unexpected and complex”. Her music is bright and melodic with atmospheric and original soundscapes. With sold-out performances at the London Jazz Festival, collaborations with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, concerts at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, and tours of Scandinavia, the US, Canada, Germany, Japan and the UK, Aagre’s international reputation is growing rapidly.. Read more here.

Stian Westerhus
Described a couple of years ago as one of Norway’s hardest working young musicians, Stian Westerhus has become one of Norway’s most in-demand musicians. No surprise then that his recent release, Pitch Black Star Spangled, has earned him such accolades as: “Melody according to Westerhus, however, is unlike any melody you’re likely to hear elsewhere. (…) [It] reveals something new with each and every listen; Pitch Black Star Spangled is a masterpiece of solo guitar.” John Kelman, All About Jazz (US/CAN).

It’s no surprise either that his creative drive and musical innovation have earned him the prestigious JazZtipend award of NOK 250 000 as a commission to write for the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra.

He has worked with Nils Petter Molvaer’s trio, Monolithic, Bladed, Eldbjørg Raknes and Puma, and is involved in an exciting new duo project with Sidsel Endresen. However, it is his solo work that has earned him concert bookings from Japan to the UK and sessions for the BBC in London. He has also won several prestigious awards: Young Norwegian Jazz Musician of the Year, Molde International Jazz Festival Talent Award and Trondheim Jazzfestival’s talent award, as well as the BBC Award for Innovation in Jazz in the UK (with the band Fraud).

Stian Westerhus’ debut solo album Galore was released in May 2009 on Rune Grammofon/TLRC, and his second album, Pitch Black Star Spangled, was released in May/June 2010 on Rune Grammofon. Read more here.

For more information, please contact:
Tonje Johansson at Norwegian Jazz Forum, ph.: +47 22 00 56 60 / mobile: + 47 90 51 97 68, tonje@jazzforum.no

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