Tenor Battle

JL 4759115LP JL 4759115LP

LP version. 2015 release. "One of the world's finest saxophonists now reveals himself as an utterly unique and deeply personal singer. Rarely, if ever, has a performing artist managed to combine two vastly different musical expressions at such a sky-high level, and at the same time made the total output seem so clear and coherent." -- Ketil Bjørnstad. Dubbed by international jazz critics as poster boy for the new Norwegian jazz, Håkon Kornstad has been listed in the US jazz magazine Downbeat's "Critics Poll". He has been an inspiration for a generation young jazz musicians with his groups Kornstad Trio and Wibutee. He has performed live collaborations with both Pat Metheny and Joshua Redman, and was a central figure in Bugge Wesseltoft's New Conception of Jazz (JL 5372512CD). Kornstad has been nominated for the Norwegian Grammy several times, most recently for his unique solo saxophone recordings. Then, as his jazz career is skyrocketing, he decides to start singing opera. In 2009 he is in New York, and hears Cavalleria Rusticana at the Met. Six years later, he has a master's degree from the Norwegian Opera Academy. But the saxophonist is very much alive. In the '50s, the jazz saxophonists competed in playing fastest and loudest and called it a Tenor Battle. In Håkon Kornstad's new ensemble the expression takes on a rather different meaning, when he mixes his newfound tenor voice with his unique tenor saxophone playing. And the sound -- Caruso meets Coltrane? Björling meets Garbarek? On Tenor Battle, opera arias by Massenet, Gluck and Bizet, as well as classical art songs are mixed seamlessly with Scandinavian jazz. Håkon Kornstad sings in Italian, French and German, with a haunting, light Scandinavian tenor voice, bringing back memories of 78RPM era salon orchestras. And then he plays the saxophone, with his distinct warm sound. Sigbjørn Apeland's harmonium sounds like a blend between strings and wind instruments, and drummer Øyvind Skarbø plays nuanced percussion on arias that were never intended for drums. Harpsichordist Lars Henrik Johansen fits in naturally with his baroque instrument on romantic pieces, while double bassist Per Zanussi also plays the singing saw, without it ever turning circus-like. The musicians in Kornstad's ensemble have worked intensively with the freedom to improvise and arrange, be it instrumental numbers or classical arias - respectfully and playfully at the same time.