EDP24 17 May 04
There comes a time when, as a critic, you give up and refuse to classify what it is you have been listening to. Although this was billed as a jazz concert, it was so much more.
Although the musical expertise was only too obvious, this Norwegian “jazz collective” offered a lesson in controlled madness that had the audience shouting for more long after the supposed finish.
All this band needed were a few hooters, bells and whistles and you have Spike Jones and his City Slickers circa 2004. Get the picture? The musical themes ranged from familiar classical ones to trashy pop (a friendly Scandinavian dig at the Danish band Aqua?) melded with sounds that might have emanated from a Romanian gipsy camp or a Moroccan snake-charmer's stall. And, to crown it all, on the same night as that uniquely awful event, a wonderful parody of the Eurovision Song Contest.
These were no musical clowns, though. The twin inspirations for all this were Stian Carstensen, highly expert on both button accordion and Fender solid; and guitarist Nils Olav Johansen. No amount of tomfoolery could hide the fact that here were two marvellously accomplished players.
Jazz? Oh yes, I almost forgot. The first half, equally enjoyable, was (more or less) jazz-based, with Carstensen joined by Brit Iain Ballamy on tenor sax. Numbers included Ray Noble's Cherokee – and The Teddy Bears' Picnic. No, I'm not kidding. It was that kind of evening!