Last week I was complaining that live streams all seem to happen on a Friday night, and that it was difficult to choose between Pablo Held Trio in Cologne, Mark Sanders/Sarah Gail Brand duo in the UK and the Andrea Wang/Andreas Ulvo duo in Oslo. This week it was Thursday with two excellent events at more or less the same time in the UK and in Oslo.
Both concerts were live streamed rather than pre-recorded, but in other respects they were quite different. The Oslo concert took place in Victoria, the Nasionjaljazzscene club in the centre of the city, and featured a quartet with a legend of the Norwegian scene, saxophonist Carl ‘Calle’ Neumann playing in a quartet with guitarist Ketil Gutvik, bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. This was a straightforward stream of a band playing in a club with good camera angles, but no extra visuals. The focus was on the music and this came across very strongly even though there was no audience. Because of the clash I wasn’t able to follow it all , but the parts I heard involved very powerful free improvisation. It is often said that in improv sessions the audience, although largely silent, is an important contributor to the improvisation in that the improvisers draw energy and inspiration from the intense concentration of the audience. It is fascinating that in the lockdown period, when improvisers have been playing without an audience, the intensity of the music does not seem to have changed and has remained at a high level. The players seem to have been drawing energy from each other.
The UK concert was quite different. It was organised by a concert platform with the name Papasang run by an Iranian electronic musician and sound sculptor, Pouya Ehsaei who had invited trumpeter Laura Jurd, pianist Elliot Galvin and visual artist Razieh Kooshki, also from Iran, but now based in Austria, for a marathon session of 90 minutes. The difference from the Oslo event was that the participants were in separate locations, and were reacting to each other through WiFi. The visuals created by Razieh Kooshki were stunning, and their abstract nature was entirely appropriate to the music. These visuals appeared as the backdrop to the video with the three musicians appearing in boxes in front of the background. The music was also captivating with Ehsaei providing beats and Laura and Elliot improvising inventively over them. I was particularly struck by a kind of pan pipe sound Laura produced by blowing down the valves of the trumpet. Also interesting that Elliot only played the upright piano; this seemed to fit well with Ehsaei’s electronics.
So two excellent concerts. The concert in Oslo was only available for the duration of the actual concert; however, the Papasang concert is still available online here.
A word about the Norwegian saxophonist Calle Neumann. As I say, he was a legend playing, for example, with Terje Rypdal on Terje’s Bleak House album in 1968, and joining Dizzy Gillespie at an early Kongsberg Jazz Festival. He retired from playing in 1985, but was persuaded to return in 1998 when The Quintet was formed with Paal Nilssen-Love, Ketil Gutvik and two bass players, Eivind Opsvik and Bjørnar Andresen. The quartet in the live stream with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass had no need for a second bass!