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FLOATING-LINER NOTES
 

 

FLOATING –

On the year’s longest and brightest day in the North, the 23rd of June 2004, what we Norwegians call “Sankthansaften”, I was sitting with Wulf Müller and Yngve Næss from Universal Music outside “Sult” (“Hunger”), a famous bar and eating place, close to the old Rainbow Studio at Grünerløkka in Oslo. Earlier the same day, I had recorded the first part of the planned “The Rainbow Sessions”, bid farewell to the old beloved studio and waited for the new one to take shape. The solo-piano-project “The Rainbow Sessions” (a planned triple-CD), had already formed in my mind, but what to do next, on a larger scale? “Why don’t you make a recording in the classical trio-format?” asked Wulf suddenly. “You have never done that before.” No, that was true. I had avoided the trio so far, perhaps because it is so challenging, and perhaps also because it can make you, as a band-leader, run into the danger of playing too many notes all the time. So far, the piano-trio seemed scary to me, because in this concept the melody so often is used just as an excuse for the pianist to play ornamentally and improvise endlessly, without taking any deeper care of the melody itself and of the compositions deeper needs and structure. “But you could still think melodically”, said Wulf, in his easy, friendly way. That sentence opened up so much for me. Yngve nodded. This was also important. He knows me so well.

            So this was how the ‘Floating’-session started. Later that summer, Jan Erik Kongshaug moved into his new Rainbow Studio, a wonderful room with an incredible acoustic, far beyond what I dared to expect and even better than the old studio was. It was encouraging to see how the always humble Jan Erik was still searching for perfection in every sense in his 60th year. More than twenty years ago, he created “The Rainbow Sound”, recording with distinguished producers and artists from all over the world, all with different needs and aesthetic approaches. A few months after moving into the new premises, one of his dreams came true: a new Steinway D-model was bought for the new studio. It was an honour for me to follow him to the Steinway-factory in Hamburg and help him choose the right one. I concluded “The Rainbow Sessions” on that new instrument, and, at the same time, made plans for the trio-recording some months later. The brilliance of a new Steinway is something very special. The quality of a good piano makes you, as the player, more aware of your possibilities, and Jan Erik, as a kind of silent co-producer, telling you in his intelligent and discrete way if you are doing a good job or not. In fact, he has by his way of working, produced many more recordings than he has taken credit for.

            A dream came true for me when Marilyn Mazur and Palle Danielsson said yes to participate in this trio-recording. Marilyn has her own, generous identity. And because she does not work with traditional brushes, tightening up the soundscape so much, she creates a lot of space for her fellow musicians, and also brings her own artistic intelligence and energy into the music. Palle Danielsson has been a hero for me since the early Cornelis Vreeswijk-recordings and, of course, since his early jazz activities in Sweden, with his incredible, warm sound and his artistic wisdom. He brought his "small" double-bass, well known from the "Belonging"- period, and Marilyn brought her beautiful bells, cymbals and different percussion instruments from all over the world, many of them from Asia. I knew Palle from before, but Marilyn I had never met. It is a strange thing to say “Hello” over a cup of coffee in the morning, and then go into the studio and record three tracks before lunch. When the first day ended, we were more than halfway through the album, and after day two, we had finished the recording. It was like when you meet someone and immediately feel you have established a strong friendship.

 The music itself gave us the possibilities. It came to us - floating.

 Sandnessjøen, 18th June 2005

 Ketil Bjørnstad

 

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