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Jazzahead 2014

By Tomas Lauvland Pettersen Posted: 17. Apr, 2014

Jazzahead kicks off in late April – we’ve had a talk with some of the strong acts that are set to perform in Bremen.

Four Norwegian acts are set to perform in Bremen at the 2014 Jazzahead! festival and music industry trade fair: Monoswezi, Mopti, In The Country and Elephant9 w/Reine Fiske.

Music Norway coordinates the Norwegian stand at Jazzahead! 2014 which features 41 delegates representing festivals, organisations, record labels, managements, distributors and other key sectors of Norway’s jazz scene.

We have talked with the showcasing artists – read on to learn more on the acts’ plans for Jazzahead, what we can expect from them on-stage and what’s planned for the remainder of 2014.


Monoswezi is a collective of musicians originally from Mozambique, Norway, Sweden and Zimbabwe. With a common passion for traditional African music in general, and music from Zimbabwe and Mozambique in particular, Monoswezi seeks a musical expression, where respect for tradition is combined with different references and experiences from jazz and modern Western music. In addition to traditional music, Monoswezi performs music composed by the band members, with a strong improvisational approach.

Says Monoswezi’s Hallvard Godal on the band’s ambitions for their 25 April gig at the Kulturzentrum Schlachthof:
– We’re really eager to perform at Jazzahead and connect with a new audience. Nothing would be better if Norwegian or international industry reps, festivals or clubs pick up on the interest.

For their Schlachthof appearance, Monoswezi will bring forth their deft mix of African styles fused with jazz says Godal:
– We’re set to perform a mix of traditional music from Zimbabwe and Mozambique and original compositions that we use as a basis for improvisation, with the Mbira thumb piano playing a central role. We plan on playing a mix of tunes from our previous album ‘The Village’ (2013) and our upcoming album which sees its release in January 2015.

Says Godal on Monoswezi’s plans for the remainder of the year:
– We’re currently working on our next album which will be released by Riverboat next year. We’re also planning tours at home and in Europe and towards the end of the year we’re also looking at touring in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.

Line-up: Hope Masike (voc, mbira, perc) – Calu Tsemane (voc, perc) – Hallvard Godal (sax, cl) – Putte Johander (b) – Erik Nylander (dr, perc)


Jazzahead showcase:
Fri 25 April, 23:30
Kulturzentrum Schlachthof



Mopti is one of the latest bands to ascend from Norway’s ever-evolving jazz scene. Their energetic live performances; mixing solid compositions, catchy grooves and driving energy has become their trademark and have led the band to many highlights despite their young age. Mopti won the “Young Musicians of the Year” award in 2012, received euphoric plaudits from both Jazzwise and The Guardian after their UK-tour in 2013, and released their debut album Logic on the well renowned label Jazzland Recordings.

Mopti is currently working with the DJ Bendik Baksaas to form a brand new concept, which is to be presented at the Molde International Jazz Festival this summer. With a mature and innovative sound, Mopti stimulates senses as well as intellect and gives you an experience you will not forget!

Mopti’s Christian Meaas Svendsen is eager to hit the Jazzahead stage:

– Mopti aims at utilizing Jazzahead as an arena to gain exposure for the band, and to prove for as many representatives possible that the band has a considerable and genuine potential on the European market – a claim that we have backed by touring Scandinavia and the UK successfully. Even if Jazzahead is something of a showcasing arena, we will focus on what we do best – to play killer concerts. The Bremen gig will not be an exception to this – we promise to deliver with boundless energy, enthusiasm and good music!

For their Jazzahead appearance, Mopti is set to perform new repertoire:

– The audience will be exposed to a band that has performed tirelessly for five years now – a band that is tightly woven and is not afraid of challenging itself or its audience, says Svendsen. – For the Jazzahead gig, we’re putting the repertoire of our debut album ‘Logic’ aside, and delve into a totally new repertoire. You gotta think ahead – it’s JazzAHEAD we’re playing, not JazzBEHIND, right?

Mopti’s Jazzahead showcase is one item on a busy itinerary this spring:
– Mopti is heading out on a minor Euopean tour in May, followed by recording sessions in Poland, says Svendsen. We’ve also embarked on a collaborative project with young DJ/turntablist Bendik Baksaas, and we are set to compose a commissioned work for the 2014 Moldejazz. We’ll bring along some of the repertoire we’ll be presenting at Jazzahead into this project.

Line-up: Harald Lassen (saxophone) – Kristoffer Eikrem (trumpet) – Aleksander Sjølie (guitar) – Christian Meaas Svendsen (bass) – Andreas Wildhagen (drums)


Jazzahead showcase:
Sat 26 April, 23:00
Gewoelbe Vegesack
ŠKODA clubnight


In the Country

In The Country

This Norwegian trio is anything else but a traditional piano trio. Morten Qvenild’s keyboards transform it into a real orchestra with a large scope of expressions from subtle lyrical to frictional intensity. Together with bass player Roger Arntzen and drummer Pål Hausken, In The Country celebrated ten years as a band in 2013, after having played nearly 200 shows in almost 30 countries and releasing half a dozen albums and videos. They just have come back from their second Japan tour and they were also part of selling out the Berlin Philharmonic with the Jazz At the Philharmonic series in March 2014. ‘Stylistic orthodoxy be damned’, said Downbeat about their previous studio album. In The Country ́s latest albums is no exception.
Says In the Country’s bass player Roger Arntzen on the band’s Jazzahead aspirations:
– In the Country’s aim is to reach out to more international promoters and media reps at the fair, and, ultimately, expand and solidify our international touring activity. To date, In the Country has performed in more than 30 countries, leaving us with a solid foundation for future tours. In the Country has attended Jazzahead in the past as regular trade fair attendees, but this year we finally have an opportunity to promote our music for an European, North American and Asian network of promoters and bookers. In the Country’s Jazzahead appearance is also part of a promotional campaign tied to the band’s signing to German record label ACT Music. Our Nordic Agent, Jon Olav Kringeland of Polyfon, as well as German reps Matthias Wendl og Jolanda Vujasinovic representing Artribute will also be present at Jazzahead.
When asked what the Jazzahead crowd can expect to hear at the In the Country gig on 26 April, Arntzen responds: – For our Sendesaal gig, ItC will mainly focus on repertoire from our latest album, ‘Sunset Sunrise’ which we released on ACT in 2013. We will also perform some carefully selected songs from past albums such as ‘Sounds and Sights’ and ‘Losing Stones, Collecting Bones’.
2014 is set to be a hectic year for the celebrated trio with a new album and tours in Europe, Asia and the US confirmed this autumn:
– Our festival summer revolves around performances at Stavanger’s Maijazz, the Ljubljana Jazz Festival and the Perifieri Festival before heading to South-Korea and Japan in September, says Arntzen. – October sees us touring Norway while in November we’re set to perform in the US, Switzerland and Germany. Coinciding with our Norwegian tour in October, In the Country is set to release its sixth album, for the occasion bolstered with vocalist Frida Ånnevik. (ItC keyboardist) Morten Qvenild has composed new music for Norwegian poet Hans Børli’s texts and UK pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole appears on several tracks on the album.

Line-up: Morten Qvenild (p/key) – Roger Arntzen (b) – Paal Hausken (dr)


Jazzahead showcase:
Sat 26 April, 23:00
ŠKODA clubnight

Elephant9 with Reine Fiske

On their fourth album, Elephant9 join forces with Reine Fiske, the quite excellent Swedish guitarist from Dungen and The Amazing, for yet another heavy slice of mind-blowing modern rock´n´jazz psychedelia. Writers have called upon names like Tony Williams´ Lifetime, Deep Purple, Brian Auger, Emerson Lake & Palmer and early seventies Miles Davis to describe the music, pointing to the fact that Elephant9 are comfortable in both rock and jazz.

Reine Fiske makes his entrance on the title track, the long intro section almost sounding like it could have come off an early Terje Rypdal album. No coincident, considering Fiske is a big Rypdal fan and Storløkken being Rypdal´s keyboard player for well over a decade.

Line-up: Ståle Storløkken (hammond organ, fender rhodes, minimoog) – Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen (electric bass) – Torstein Lofthus (drums) – Reine Fiske (electric guitar)


Jazzahead showcase:
Sat 26 April, 23:00
Kulturzentrum Schlachthof