Norwegian and Swedish jazz bands on Bangkok stage

The Urban Connection from Norway and the Swedish Jazz Kings have performed at the Bangkok’s sixth annual International Music and Dance Festival on October 6 at Thailand Cultural Center.
      Upon such festival, ScandAsia has an opportunity to meet and talk with the musicians from the two bands.
      Urban Connection is the first to perform and the band rocks the stage and jazzes up a new deal of jazz. The three members, namely Steinar Raknes (double bass), Frode Nymo (alto saxophone) and Hakon Mjaset Johansen (drums) represent the new generation of young Norwegian jazz musicians and combine the traditional acoustic form of expression with the energy of different kinds of music.
      The three Norwegians from Trondheim Music Conservatory produce their jazz tunes with the influences of different styles of music and through traveling. Their music is modern jazz with an acoustic yet energetic approach as they play double bass, saxophone and acoustic drums without any touch of electronica.
      “We have different kinds of influences from rock, traditional jazz, fusion and classical music,” says Steinar.
      “We listen to different kinds of music and try to blend it,” Frode adds.
      The band was formed in 1996, where they met at the Trondheim Music Conservatory and has their third album called UC III recently released.
      The band is the first to produce such modern jazz tunes, where no other bands have ventured before.
      “None of the bands have done music exactly the way we do it,” says Frode.
      “We never try to play in certain style and we write the materials ourselves and they sound original,” he adds.
      “We listen to all kinds of music and we travel a lot. We learn a lot from meeting other musicians around the world and we have energy from living,” remarks Steinar on his music recipe.
      From hard beat jazz tunes to a more soft sound by The Swedish Jazz Kings, who deliver the more classical aesthetic of jazz.
      The Swedish Jazz Kings was formed in 1985 by Tomas Ornberg, where the ensemble began as a studio band to recreate and record the music of Clarence Williams for American record producer Bob Erdos. The band has developed a worldwide reputation.
      The Swedish Jazz Kings comprises of five musicians, namely Tomas Ornberg (clarinet/ soprano saxophone/ leader), Bob Barnard (trumpet/cornet/vocals), Spats Langham (banjo/guitar/vocals), Christian Frank (string bass/ bass saxophone) and Martin Litton (piano).
      And although the name of the band represents the country of origin, Sweden, does not necessary mean all players are Swedes. In fact, the personnel vary depending on the availability of the musicians. The band also performs and records with world class guest soloists and has made various CD compilations together as well as with other guest musicians
      “In this kind of music, it doesn’t matter if you can’t speak their language, we can still play the same music,” says Tom, the guitarist.
      Upon their performance in Bangkok, the band comprises two Swedes, two English and an Australian jazz musician, Bob Barnard, who represents as guest. Bob Barnard is Australia’s most famous jazz musician with 40 years of experience and has done various CD compilations with the band.
      Although the band does not rock the stage and thrill the hearts of the audience like the previous band, the Swedish Jazz Kings softens the tunes and shows the audience a more classic side of jazz. The five musicians deliver what called the classical jazz tunes from the Chicago / New Orleans music in the 20s.
      “We play the classical jazz era, the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s,” says Tom.
      “It is not the traditional jazz but the classical style, where we would play the melody and improvise it, while modern jazz provides the chords,” he adds.
      The band has previously done jazz tours in England, Australia, Sweden and many places around Europe and other parts of the world. It is their first time performing in Thailand and busy as they can be, the band delivered a great performance awing its audience at the Thailand Cultural Center.

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