A new jazz monster is born! And of course it happened in Norway. Andreas Røysum stands out not only because of his extraordinary height. He is also an extraordinary and very talented clarinetist, who actively perform in a variety of cool projects, such as Nakama, Marthe Lea Band or collaborations with great musicians: German trumpeter Axel Dörner and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood. He stands also behind Motvind Festival which proves that it IS possible to organize a festival with outstanding international line-up without compromising ethical values and to work both culturally and economically inclusive, as we read on their website. Motvind is happening this year on Saturday at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, 4th July. Andreas has a warm and open heart and together with his friends he presents a bold vision for the music. Read and listen carefully, because those are the new representatives of the bright future.
Andreas Røysum Ensemble consists of ten mighty and talented youngsters based in Oslo and already conquering the world with style, love and fresh energy. The ensemble accommodates a wind quartet, a string quartet (with two double basses), tablas and drums. To be more specific, it is Andreas Røysum on clarinet, Henriette Eilertsen, flute, Signe Emmeluth, alto saxofon; Marthe Lea, tenor saxofon; Hans Kjorstad, violin; Joel Ring, cello; John Andrew Wilhite-Hannisdal; double bass, Christian Meaas Svendsen, double bass; Sanskriti Shresta, tablas and Ivar Myrset Asheim on drums. They have released their debut album on Motvind Records (definitely make a note to check out previous and future releases!) on 5th March 2020. The same day, they had a release concert at my beloved Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene (right before the pandemic locked everyone up for over 3 months). I unfortunately couldn’t attend that night, but they have returned to my other favourite venue, Kafe Hærverk, on a warm Thursday evening, June 25th.
I came right before the show start, and the venue was already at its full (reduced) capacity, with all the seats taken and the audience gazing on the scene, longing for live music. Quick high five (or “high elbow”, as we now greet each other like that) and chat with a long-lost friend, then ordering a refreshing glass of white wine, just as the first sounds of clarinet came to my ears. And the celebration began!
They played two long sets for us, around 40 minutes each, and during both of them I couldn’t help but dance and smile all the time. The whole performance was a great example of what celebration of life and music should be.
The first set was a collective work, forming a cloud of free improvisations, with calm and also intriguing settings. The ensemble was opening up its soul to the audience. The interactions and collaborative work shows that each musician has a very special place in this ensemble and an important role in contributing to the final effect.
A quick break between sets, getting fresh air on the patio and already the second part begins. Already the first sounds were a loud invitation to a dance party! Jouyful melodies in each composition interlacing with free outbursts and interesting dialouges between the “quartets” and rhythmic section. My attention is brought to colorful melodies that leads throughout the set, and the exchange of “words” in the wind sections, as they were manifesting the vision this ensemble preach, the saxophones starting one phrase, the clarintet taking over and finishing it, or otherwise.
The duos, trios or quartets were emerging out from the free jazz collective, allowing new formations to come forward, take over the narrative and set a new tone for the ending of each composition. Sanskriti and Ivar served us a juicy dialogue between tablas and drums, almost hipnotizing you through its way only to be awaken when the rest of the band joined in a wild group improvisation. There was also a moment when double-basses and cello took over the spotlight, and we were introduced to a fenomenal dance on the strings!
One of the last compositions they played was my favourite, Til Albert, and it sounded even better live. It caused a little stir in the audience, the flesh of excitement went through everybody and everyone could feel proud to get to experience this fantastic performance which left you awestruck that jazz can be played like that – with message, love, creativity and a gallon of talent.
At the end of the performance, everyone was cheering and strongly indicating that they wanna hear more, but Andreas smiled tricky and said: We won’t play more, you know! Everyone laughed and clapped even harder to thank for incredible two sets. Those who wanted a bit more stayed until very late evening to enjoy musicians’ company, talked about the weirdest drink you’ve had in your life and absorbed the good vibes.
I’ve heard them live for the first time, and already intbetween sets I was humming a melody that stuck in my head. That was the kind of performance that is like a fuel of good energy, a sight for sore eyes and after that you still process all the emotions and what just really happened. The next day, when you wake up a little bit tired, and the first thought that comes to your head is a memory of this fantastic concert and again you are humming this melody, smiling shyly, and your heart is full.
“I don’t need to pretend to be anyone else. I don’t need to deliberetly mix different musical styles or lose myself in retro fetishism or imagine a hypothetical future in an attempt to catch the pulse of the zeitgeist. Because life lives, it pulsates. The spirit flows through the matter.” – Andreas