FESTIVAL ROUND-UP: Bodø Jazz Open 2015

Knut Reiersrud at Sinus, Bodø Jazz Open 2015
Photo credit: Henrik Dvergsdal
Bodø Jazz Open 2015: Festival Round Up
(Bodø, Norway, 21 - 24 January. Review by Jonathan Carvell)


Against a backdrop of elk burgers and biting arctic wind, the 2015 Bodø Jazz Open had a fascinating and broad artistic programme, from established international acts such as the Jan Garbarek Group on the opening night, (link below) to emerging artists like Elle Marja Eira, who writes anthemic songs about reindeer based on traditional Sami melodies.

The festival saw an appearance from percussionist Marilyn Mazur’s group Future Song. Mazur (who toured with Miles Davis in the 80s, image below) and her seven piece ensemble provided a wild ride through compound-time grooves, with plenty of world music influences, and Nils Petter Molvær’s effect-drenched trumpet provided a number of highlights. Contrast this, then, with an interactive dance show from Kartellet, who reinvent and re-imagine traditional folk forms to create performances where the audience are part of the show itself, sitting on stage as dancers whirl around them.

Marilyn Mazur at the Bodø Jazz Open 2015
Photo credit: Henrik Dvergsdal

There were more experimental projects such as 365 Losvik – trumpeter Ole Jørn Myklebust and guitarist Roger Ludvigsen’s ambient duo accompanying a slideshow of Martin Losvik’s photographs of northern Norway. Late night jam sessions took place in a temporary boathouse (complete with working sauna) in a square in the town centre: John-Kåre Hansen (guitar) and Dag Erik Pedersen (bass) ripped through standards on Friday night. The Band Called Oh! (recently nominated for a Norwegian Grammy) provided neo-soul, as part of the North Norwegian Jazz Centre’s wonderfully diverse showcase evening (which saw some 32 performers take to the stage in just shy of 75 minutes). Aleksander Kostopoulos, (photo below) a young drummer, shone as part of a number of groups that night. Knut Reiersrud and his band brought blues to Sinus – the smallest of the three fantastic halls in Stormen. As if that wasn’t enough, the last day saw the arrival of an entire symphony orchestra - the Arctic Philharmonic - for the second ever performance of Django Bates’ bass clarinet concerto, written for Håvard Lund (a founding member of Farmers Market). This was a work of great wit and invention, and more than held its own in a programme completed by Bernstein’s suites from West Side Story and On the Waterfront.

Aleksander Kostopoulos in the Elle Márjá Eira Band, Bodø Jazz Open 2015
Photo credit: Henrik Dvergsdal

As a festival, it didn’t feel like something just put together to sell tickets – although every event was certainly well-attended and well-received. The sense of openness that the festival’s name invokes was genuinely present throughout: audiences in Bodø are as keen to hear a small band romp through Mingus-esque charts as they are to hear traditional folk melodies for violin and harmonium. As the festival went on, these eclectic ingredients came together to create a real sense of the place itself and the cultural vibe.

In this rugged, beautiful, freezing part of the world, in the depths of winter, Bodø Jazz Open celebrates the myriad talents of Norway’s wonderfully diverse and rich musical culture.

LINK: Review of Jan Garbarek at the Bodø Jazz Open 2015

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