2018 review

Musically 2018 has been a very interesting and rewarding year: the OKeh releases received great reviews around the globe and quite a few international awards or nominations and there have been so many great new records and concerts, that, as every year, it is really difficult to select an individual top ten, which only represents a small part of what I listened to, which again is only a very small part of what was released or performed this year. Nevertheless, here are my top lists for 2018:


Bill Frisell & John Surman – these two legends have been set at # 1 not only for their outstanding duo concert at North Sea Jazz, but as well for the individual shows I did see/hear this year – Frisell solo in Barcelona and the John Surman Trio in Madrid!

Nels Cline & Julian Lage – together and the Julian Lage Trio shows I was able to attend put these two guitar heroes at # 2

Hudson / John Scofield – Hudson in Rotterdam and Scofield’s Combo 66 in Madrid … fireworks and deep music

Rohey / Gurls – two groups featuring singer Rohey Taalah, three outstanding performances in New York, Rotterdam and Oslo (Gurls)

Shabaka Hutchings – whether with The Comet is Coming (New York) or with Sons Of Kemet (Rotterdam) sax player Hutchings is a powerhouse and a creative force#

Jose James – his Bill Whithers tribute Live in NYC … touching and honest

Arve Henriksen & Duo Medieval – captivating concert by Henriksen and vocalists Anna Maria Friman and Linn Andrea Fuglseth at Bran Castle

Nils Petter Molvaer – whether as a trio or as a quartet, the Nils Petter Molvaer group always delivers

Utel Lemper – a sensational show in Alicante by one of the best singers of our days

Michel Camilo – a powerful and outstanding solo show in every aspect as part of the Madrid International jazz Festival


Wayne Shorter / Emanon – everything about this release is special: the compositions, the live performance and the packaging. An instant classic!

Michael Leonhart Orchestra / The Painted Lady Suite – all you want to hear on a big band album .. a masterful MLO debut

Ketil Bjornstad & Anneli Drecker / A Suite Of Poems – Music by Bjornstad and poems by Lars Saabye Christensen – performed by Ketil on piano and Anneli Drecker on vocals .. the loneliness of travelling expressed ..

Wolfgang Muthspiel / Where the river goes – Austrian composer and guitarist with a stellar line up bewitching his audience with beautiful melodies

Kat Edmonson/ Old Fashioned Gal – a unique voice and some wonderful compositions .. Kat Edmonson at her best

Tord Gustavsen Trio / The Other Side – classy return to the trio format by the soulful Gustavsen

Madeleine Peyroux / Anthem – one of her best recordings so far – great song writing and unique delivery

Piotr Schmidt / Tribute to Tomasz Stanko – a wonderful bow to the Polish master and Schmidt’s other 2018 release ‘Saxesful’ is worth checking out as well

Paolo Vinaccia / Dommedag ifølge Paulus / Mystery Man – drummer Vinaccia released with Dommedag a CD/DVD package of touching beauty and a message of love .. Mystery Man is a 6 CD set of his career highlights … European drummer legend!

Dhafer Youssef / Sounds of Mirrors – featuring Zakir Hussain, Hüsnü Şenlendirici and Eivind Aarseth and Dhafers captivating voice and oud. Spiritual and deep music.


But in many other ways 2018 has been a tough year: the continuing global move to the political right is frightening and makes it more and more important that we make our liberal voices heard. And we lost to many beloved family members, friends and artists from the jazz world this year: Uli Scherer, a wonderful human being and composer/pianist, with whom I had the honour to work; Roy Hargrove, the trumpet player who bridged the tradition with the now; Randy Weston, Sonny Fortune, Hamiett Bluiett, Erich Kleinschuster, Tomasz Stanko, Jon Hiseman, Cecil Taylor and Mikhail Alperin to name just a few and the ones that I heard, met or worked with – may they Rest In Peace!




2018 saw a lot of great albums coming from the label (see image below)

and we will in 2019 continue to hopefully deliver quality recordings with global appeal. We have ready for early 2019 releases a new Branford Marsalis Quartet and a Theo Croker album that is NOW in Motion, as well as Nils Petter Molvaer with orchestra, to be recorded in January. Watch this space!!!!


music travels

I had some meetings in Berlin at the end of November and took the chance to go to my favourite club there, the A-Trane to see Leona Berlin (that’s really her name). I had heard and read about her before and was simply curious to see her perform .. this time to present her first album live and she had put a decent band together with Gustav Anders on keyboards, Richard Müller on bass and electronics and Mathis Grossmann on drums. The repertoire came from the new album, with the exception of a brand-new song performed here for the first time and pretty good. Some of the songs from the album and concert, like ‘Feel The Love’ and ‘Thinking About You’ as well as ‘Make Me Wanna’ are really good and groovy and came across well. It seemed the band and her leader need a bit more time to gel, but that’s only normal. She did a few songs on her own with loops and sounds and sounded really strong doing so. A great talent in terms of her vocals, not a jazz singer, but very much soul and modern R&B. She got still some way to go, but this first step is more than promising.

Back in Madrid I finally got a chance to hear young singer and Flügelhorn player Andrea Motis performing as a trio with Joan Chamorro on bass and saxophone and Josep Traver on guitars. An intimate setting in a beautiful theatre and laid-back music performed on top level … what more can one ask for? Motis is a good player and a great singer, working her ways through the great American songbook and a bunch of Brazilian classics, plus a few originals. Her sidemen did a great job in creating beautiful grooves and sounds for her to sing on and excelled in some pretty amazing soli. A new album is planned for early 2019 .. something to look forward to.


CD’s to check out

Piotr Schmidt / Tribute to Tomasz Stanko – Polish trumpeter Schmidt and his fellow musicians, Wojciech Niedziela on piano, Krzysztof Gradziuk on drums and Maciej Garbowski on bass, recorded this beautiful and touching music as a tribute to the late Polish master. The compositions are clear and in the same mood Stanko liked to record and the performance of all four musicians is outstanding. Schmidt can play anything and here he is melancholic and full of emotions and pianist Niedziela adds a lyrical touch to all songs, sublime supported by Garbowski and Gradziuk (both known for their work in the trio RGG). Besides listening to Stanko’s own records, as a tribute and to hear his influence on these players, check this out. Highly recommended.

Benjamin Deschamps / No Codes – Young Canadian alto player Deschamps released a new album with his quartet, featuring highly acclaimed Canadian veteran Frank Lozano on tenor sax, Sébastien Pellerin on bass and Louis-Vincent Hamel on drums. Wonderful how the two sax players communicate and do their ‘call and response’ in the open and flowing compositions. This is a straight jazz recording, with some heavy swinging, free explorations and fantastic ensemble play. Modern and adventurous and them taking their ideas from many different sources to create a unique and powerful album.

The Allison Au Quartet / Wander Wonder – 2016 JUNO Award winner for ‘Best Jazz Album of the Year: Group’ for ‘Forest Grove’, The Allison Au Quartet’s follow-up ‘Wander Wonder’ is another strong release of modern jazz. The four musicians Allison Au on alto saxophone, Todd Pentney on piano and Prophet Rev2, Jon Maharaj on Bass & Electric Bass and Fabio Ragnelli on drums take their inspirations from a wide range of influences, including Brazilian music and Wayne Shorter. Just listen to the outstanding tracks ‘Morning’, ‘Red Herring’ and A Trick of the Moonlight’ and get the swing and feel of these compositions, which represent a wonderful recording.

Jazzland Recordings, the label run by pianist, composer and keyboarder Bugge Wesseltoft and record executive Sten Nilsen, has started a sub-label called OK World, which has and will release jazz, world music and electronic projects from around the globe. Here are some of the recent releases:

NORDJORDET Øyonn Groven Myhren / Bugge Wesseltoft and others create a mix of Norwegian folk music on traditional instruments and ambient music. Incredible!

Bendik Baksaas / Seine sviv – Electronic music mixed with traditional Norwegian vocals by Helga Myhr. Enchanting!

Adama Barry / Lembi – beautiful traditional music from Burkina Faso, featuring Solo Diarra on the original recordings plus some remixes of these songs by Henrik Schwartz, Mental Overdrive and others. A unique production.

Matona’s Afdhal Group  – Matona, a vocalist and oud player from Zanzibar collaborating with Norwegian jazz musicians. Cool.

Sanskriti Shrestha Avatar / Brijanga – tabla player from Nepal, who lives in Oslo, with her debut album, featuring a host of Norwegian musicians and combining tradition with improvisation. Captivating!