Posts Tagged ‘IS IT JAZZ? RECORDS’

Is it Jazz? Records have inked a deal with LEAGUS, which will see the label release the third full-length album from the contemporary and experimental musical duo who hail from Sápmi – Norway,  and whose music alternates between formal composed parts, open structures, and  free improvisation, and ranges from subdued, minimalistic, psalm-like pieces, to more rock-oriented improvised parts.

Consisting of pianist Herborg Rundberg and guitarist Kristian Svalestad Olstad, LEAGUS was originally formed in 2013 by Herborg, as part of her Masters degree in Rhythmic Music at the Tromsø Conservatory, where, coincidentally,  Kristian had also received his Masters degree in the same subject two years earlier.

The name LEAGUS is actually  Sami slang for asking for something, and originates in the area in which Herborg herself was born.  It is her Sami background, and her work with traditional and classical music, along with Kristian´s extended use of guitar and electronics, that forms the basis of LEAGUS’ sound, which has, over time, developed into an exploratory and complex sonic universe. 

Over the years the duo have worked extensively on finding new, and different interactions between the  piano and the guitar, which has lead to the development of a new and progressive kind of musical togetherness. It is a sound that is highly dynamic with musical contrasts playing a big part in their concept.

LEAGUS’ two previous albums, 2016’s  “Lea Aigi”, and 2019’s “Naimaka”, the latter actually having been  released as a quartet with two additional drummers, both received critical acclaim, and served to  establish LEAGUS as an up-and-coming band within the northern Norwegian Experimental scene.

In 2021 LEAGUS were commissioned by the North Norwegian Jazz Ensemble to write a piece for a ten-member orchestra.  The result was “Flora Eallin” which was composed and arranged by Herborg and Kristian.  This led to a tour with the  North Norwegian Jazz Ensemble and  long time collaborator and visual designer Torbjørn Thrane Sandnes.

About their upcoming collaboration with Is it Jazz? Records, LEAGUS had this to say:

We are extremely proud to announce that we are signing with Is it jazz? Records!  We share the same enthusiasm for experimental and progressive music, and also the devotion to the album format. We are so grateful for becoming a part of this team!

On stage the duo are known for their energetic and visual concerts, and more information about LEAGUS can be found on the band’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/leagusleagus or on their website at http://www.leagusband.com

A video of LEAGUS live at the Kulturhuset  in Tromsø  can be seen below and at https://youtu.be/rkkuWkzBkNI

Additional Information
LEAGUS
Website: http://www.leagusband.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leagusleagus
Instagram: instagram.com/_leagus_
IS IT JAZZ RECORDS
Promo and other information: post@isitjazzrecords.no
Website:  https://isitjazzrecords.no/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IsItJazzRecords/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isitjazzrecords/
Band Contact & Booking: kristian.s.olstad@gmail.com

It might, on occasion, cross your mind that perhaps sister-labels, Karisma Records, and Is it Jazz? Records have an A&R team permanently camped outside prestigious Norwegian music conservatories  since so many of the younger bands signed to the labels have graduated from those hallowed halls.   And indeed,  SHAKAI, the latest signing to Is it Jazz? Records, are no exception to the rule, with members having studied at either Bergen or Trondheim conservatories.

Formed in 2016 with band leader and bassist Eline Rafteseth at the helm, SHAKAI, which translates from the Japanese as “public” or “society”, released a very successful debut album in 2018, and followed it with various festival appearances that solidified the band’s growing reputation. 

Now, with 2022 waning, and 2023 on the horizon, SHAKAI is back with a new lineup to go with its brand new record deal, and is ready to begin work on the band’s  sophomore full-length album.  At the same time, SHAKAI are determined not to let the grass grow beneath their collective feet, so, before entering Bergen’s Duper Studio with producers Jørgen Træen and Iver Sandøy, SHAKAI is set to play a series of dates around Norway.

Of the upcoming collaboration with Is it Jazz? Records SHAKAI had this to say:

We are very excited to announce that we have been signed with Is it jazz? Records. Not only because of their passion and devotion to music – but also because they are a local label that really cares about their artists!

As is usually the case with graduates from music conservatories, SHAKAI’s lineup of bassist,  band leader and original founder Eline Rafteseth (QUORUM TRIO, MADS BERVEN, BOREALIS UNG KOMPONIST), Elisabeth Lid Trøen on saxophones (BERGEN BIG BAND, TRØEN/ARNESEN KVARTETT), Gabriela Garrubo on vocals (METTESON, AMALIE HOLT KLEIVE, GABRIELA GARRUBO), guitarist Simen Walle (ATARI, GUILTY GARDEN, WALLE) and Amund Nordstrøm on drums and modular synth (DATADYR, AVIAN ART, TOMAS LOSSIUS SEPTET), brings with it a plethora of musical disciplines and backgrounds, firmly rooted in Jazz and Improvisation, along with a sound grounding gleaned from working with other bands and projects. 

Inspired by artists that include DEERHOOF, PORTISHEAD, DOFFS POI, SOLVEIG SLETTAHJELL, BROEN and whilst musically they identify as indie-jazz, the quintet doesn’t really pay much attention to genre definitions, nor  to those unwritten rules that try to shackle musicians to a set formula that only serves to  stifle creativity.   SHAKAI would much rather invite the listener in to their strange universe of unexpected elements and unusual instruments, and let the music speak for itself, describing their creative process as being “almost like making pastries without a recipe”.

Whilst appearance-wise, SHAKAI present an image of studied ease, almost, at times, of introspection on stage, there is no  hint of navel gazing as the band skilfully brings its music to life,  drawing the audience in and surprising them with unexpected turns.  Fans will be able to see for themselves what SHAKAI is all about live on the following dates:

OCTOBER

Tue 4: Progkjeller, Hærverk Oslo
Sat 8: Bajazz, Bergen
Fri 14: Jazz på Jølst, Jølster
Sat 15: Vestnes Jazzklubb
Sun 16: Søndagsjazzen på Ila
Wed 19: Uhørt! Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene – splittkonsert med Joakim Rainer Trio.

More information about SHAKAI can be found on the band’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/shakaimusic 

A video of SHAKAI playing live at Landmark in Bergen can be seen below and at https://youtu.be/UmnJRCU5vqE

Additional Information
SHAKAI
Facebook: www.facebook.com/shakaimusic
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3I4SiHR9WzNlaQo8d0izWj?si=TWH_T7hCTfabG8zYXF9-Lw
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shakai.band/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuUp5Dqip-xDG91_uOVrL6g
Band Contact:  shakaibooking@gmail.com
IS IT JAZZ RECORDS
Promo and other information: post@isitjazzrecords.no
Website:  https://isitjazzrecords.no/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IsItJazzRecords/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isitjazzrecords/

Is it Jazz? Records seems to be getting its pick from the talented alumni of Norway’s prestigious Grieg Academy, as signalled by the label’s latest signing, AKSEL RØED’S OTHER ASPECTS,  the new project from Jazz saxophonist  Aksel Røed.

Putting together an octet, which is what AKSEL RØED’S OTHER ASPECTS is, in order to bring his musical vision to fruition, is no mean feat, but that is what Røed has successfully achieved.  Having attracted some of the finest young Norwegian musicians, as well as those with a proven track record,  to the ranks of AKSEL RØED’S OTHER ASPECTS, the band will now become the focus of Røed’s attention.  As he explains:

OTHER ASPECTS started out in 2019 as an ambitious project for me to write some music for a school project at the Grieg Academy.  But, having put this octet together, I have not been able to put it aside and it is now my main focus in music.

The ensemble is my biggest to date with all original music composed for an eight piece band.  Other Aspects’ debut album` “Do you dream in colours?”  was recorded at fashionable Duper Studios in May 2020 in Bergen, and the band, consisting of some of my best friends and finest young musicians in Norway, perfectly executed my visions as composer and leader. 

On trumpet and flugelhorn we have my dear brother, the amazing Lyder Øvreås Røed, and on second trumpet, my good friend and colleague for many years, Andreas Hesselberg Hatzikiriakidis.  The saxophone section consists of Lauritz Lyster Skeidsvoll on soprano and tenor, known from some of my favorite bands such as BEAR BROTHER and MASTER OOGWAY. On baritone sax and bass clarinet is  Michael Barnes, my long time mentor, friend and the musical leader of BERGEN BIGBAND. He is an Aussie who writes the best scores for large ensembles in Bergen.  As for myself, I try to lead the band from the tenor stand. Sigurd Steinkopf keeps the drums going and Sverre Sæbø holds the bas,  and Isach Skeidsvoll gives new meaning to the phrase “playing the piano”.


OTHER ASPECTS allows me to constantly drift into different directions and usually with short notice. The music is composed but not set, meaning its perfectly acceptable,  and even encouraged to think and play outside the box. Most of the magic within the band lies in the free improvisation.  

In terms of inspiration I find it in the old saxophone recordings of Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and Pharoah Sanders, but also in the composing mind of Django Bates and Charlie Hadens Liberation Orchestra I.e. Despite all of the references, I still think (and hope) that the music undoubtedly sounds like “Aksel Røed”

As to his decision to sign with Is it Jazz? Records, it seems that both label and artist are of the same mind when it comes to their home town of Bergen:

I am very pleased to have signed with Is It Jazz? and their team. I strive to keep Bergen as active and attractive as I can musically, and I have no doubt in my mind that such a professional and local label has my back in doing so.

More information about AKSEL RØED’S OTHER ASPECTS can be found at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100082226721671

Additional Information
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100082226721671
Band Contact:  akseltr@hotmail.com
Is it Jazz? Records
Website:  https://isitjazzrecords.no/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IsItJazzRecords/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isitjazzrecords/
Contact:  post@isitjazzrecords.no

Having recently announced the details of label’s first ever release (from Jazz Prog Rockers SOFT FFOG), Is it Jazz? Records have today revealed more about DATADYR, the band destined to produce the label’s second release, which will be available on the 10th June.

Based in Bergen, Norway, DATADYR is a trio of musicians who are all graduates of the Grieg Academy,  where their jazz studies provided the inspiration for their music, which can be characterized by its use of traditional jazz, newer directions in jazz and musical improvisations.

All three have considerable experience with other bands and projects. Bassist Øystein Høynes, for instance, has deep-dived into both American and Scandinavian Jazz, something that can be heard in DATADYR’s music.  He likes to explore the differences in genres and mix them up, and his playing is “groovy and playful”, with a desire to drive the music forward.  Already a well-known figure on the Scandinavian Jazz scene, Høynes has played on albums by the FINNSETH TRIO, HERKULES and ATARI, and is currently playing with ATARI, TARA MARTINE, TREVERKET, and HVO.

During his time at the Grieg Academy drummer Amund Nordstrøm turned his focus towards jazz, free jazz and free improvisation. With a style that is energetic, playful and which pays great attention to tone and texture, it is somewhat extremist but nevertheless displays a controlled musical direction, with  clear references to older American and Scandinavian jazz. In a short time Nordstrøm has succeeded in making a name for himself on the music scene in Bergen. He has played a number of concerts in both Norway and Europe and released albums with AVIAN ART, THOMAS LOSSIUS SEPTETT and GUNSLINGING BIRD, with more in the works with bands such as DATADYR, CORT PIIL, MØ: SAN, DUMBO CASINO and SHAKAI.

Guitarist Odd Erlend Mikkelsen has, for several years, been involved in the Rock and Metal scene with bands like DREAMARCHER and KRYPTOGRAF. However, during the last four years he studied Jazz at the Grieg Academy, exploring improvisation. Through his studies he has developed a sound that combines the energy and abrasiveness of classic rock guitar playing, with the harmonic and rhythmic ideas derived from modern jazz.

Having used their experience and their studies to hone their musical skills and develop their distinctive sound – which ranges from the heartfelt and gentle to the energetic and explosive, DATADYR are now ready with their debut full-length album “Woolgathering”, about which the band had this to say:

It’s great to finally release our album on Is it Jazz? Records! There hasn’t been a proper label for jazz/improvised music in Bergen for a while now so Is it Jazz? Records came along at just the right time for us.

“Woolgathering” is a collection of our favourite songs which were written early on in DATADYR’s career. Some of them go all the way back to 2018. while some of them are more recent. It’s a good mix of all our influences as a band and as individual musicians. “Woolgathering” means to daydream, to gather your thoughts – a fitting title in our opinion. 

Further details about “Woolgathering” will be released in due course, and more information about DATADYR  can be found on the band’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Datadyrmusic

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Datadyrmusic
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpLXhM4Pd4bZxJ0UEkAzgpg
Booking: datadyrepost@gmail.com
Website:  https://isitjazzrecords.no/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IsItJazzRecords/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isitjazzrecords/
Contact:  post@isitjazzrecords.no

Is It Jazz? Records, the scion of Norways Dark Essence and Karisma Records, will launch their first release on the 27th May when the self-titled debut album from Jazz Prog Rockers SOFT FFOG hits the streets.  But those curious to hear what the label has in store for them need wait no longer, because today “Chun Li”,  the opening track from the SOFT FFOG album, has been released as a single, which can be streamed or downloaded from various services at:

https://isitjazzrecords.fanlink.to/Soft-Ffog_Chun-Li

Being the first band on the label is, as you can imagine, something the Instrumental Quartet is  very much looking forward to, as the band explains:

SOFT FFOG are super stoked to be the first band signed to Is it Jazz? Records and we’re looking forward to rising into the cosmos together! So,about us. Have you ever wondered what it would sound like if JIMI HENDRIX joined DEEP PURPLE and aimed at sounding like GENTLE GIANT – but failing miserably in the attempt because too much jazz had been consumed lately? Probably not, but anyhow,  SOFT FFOG´s sound is unique, and draws parallels with the aforementioned acts somewhat in style, compositions and aesthetics, but is more rooted in jazz – with prolonged solos and improvisations.

And of course the time has now come, and we are happy to release the first single from our upcoming album.  The song is the opener on the album, and kicks off with a «The Who-esque» intro with a twisted indie rock melody, then progresses into a fuzzed out Gentle Giant-like riff. Guitar solo ahead! And then concludes with a bang!

SOFT FFOG’s genesis in 2016 was somewhat unusual in that it came about as a one-off gig commissioned by the Kongsberg Jazz Festival. Despite the success of this event, the band did not get the momentum it needed to be a proper working entity, and, combined with the busy schedules of the respective musicians, each with their other bands and projects, SOFT FFOG only played gigs every now and then. Playing live, did however,  help to define and refine the band’s  sound, so much so, infact, that founder  Tom Hasslan decided that  2020 was the right time for SOFT FFOG to record their first album.

The band consists of Tom Hasslan (KROKOFANT) who also wrote the album, on guitars, Axel Skalstad (KROKOFANT) on drums, Trond Frønes (RED KITE, GRAND GENERAL) on bass, and Vegard Lien Bjerkan (WIZRD) on keyboards.  It’s safe to say that individually the members of SOFT FFOG have probably played with everyone in the Norwegian Jazz scene, and now  they have a vehicle that allows them to do their own thing. By combining influences from KING CRIMSON with TERJE RYPDAL, DEEP PURPLE with PAT METHENY, SOFT FFOG have produced an album of blistering guitar solos, gnarly bass, crazy drums and supersonic keyboard playing!

Recorded at Studio Paradiso with Christian Engfelt engineering and producing, and mastered by  Herbrand Larsen, and with artwork by Tor Einar Evju and layout by Tom Korsvold,  track listing for the album is as follows:

1. Chun Li
2. Zangief
3. Ken
4. Dhalsim

“Soft Ffog” will be released in CD and LP formats and is now available to pre-order from

Bandcamp: https://softffog.bandcamp.com/album/soft-ffog
Webshop: https://isitjazzrecords.no/shop/

More information about SOFT FFOG can be found on the band’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Softffog

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Softffog
Booking: jazztom@hotmail.com
Website:  https://isitjazzrecords.no/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IsItJazzRecords/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isitjazzrecords/
Contact:  post@isitjazzrecords.no

Fans of both the more Extreme end of metal as well as fans of more Progressive genres are well versed in the eclectic output of Norwegian labels Dark Essence Records for the former, and Karisma Records for the latter – labels known not only for their rosters of iconic, long-established and world-renowned bands, as well some of the most interesting newcomers to emerge on their respective scenes.

It shouldn’t therefore come as too much of a surprise that the eclectic band of people who have created the two labels, some of whom are professional musicians and producers, and some of whom have been working in the industry for many years now, should decide to expand further into territory that fits in with their ethos, and their personal musical interests. As they explain:

All you need to do is look at our catalogue of releases from both labels, and it’s pretty evident that those of us behind Karisma and Dark Essence Records have always been interested in different musical styles and genres.

One of those interests, in which we do dabble extensively, is the more progressive and experimental kind of music, music that leads us naturally to enjoying a lot of Jazz as well.  And that’s why we are now launching a new sub-label simply called IS IT JAZZ? RECORDS.

We’re sure that some of you are asking why the name of the label is actually a question. Well, there is an awful lot of music around these days that is labelled Jazz, so much so, in fact, that even within the Jazz scene there are constant discussions on what is Jazz and what isn’t. So we thought that we would really like to release bands and artists that we feel represents Jazz to us, and this could encompass a whole lot of areas. It could be the exponents of classical jazz, or the really experimental artists, the soft singer/songwriters, or the hard rocking proggers.

There’s a whole lot of Jazz out there and we hope you will come along with us for the ride and enjoy our Jazz discoveries – and let’s see if you think it’s Jazz or not!

More information about Is it Jazz? Records can be found at the following:

Website:  https://isitjazzrecords.no/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IsItJazzRecords/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isitjazzrecords/
Contact:  post@isitjazzrecords.no

With every intention of hitting the ground running Is it Jazz? Records plan to release the debut albums from their two new signings around summer time.  First up will be an album from the quartet SOFT FFOG, whose experienced musicians are well known on the Norwegian Jazz scene, whilst the second album will be from DATADYR, a trio of musicians from Bergen, whose four years studying Jazz at the prestigious Grieg Academy, has given them a varied take on things.

More information about the upcoming releases will be available shortly, and in the meantime you can find out more about the bands at the following:

SOFT FFOG
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Softffog
Booking: jazztom@hotmail.com

DATADYR
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Datadyrmusic
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpLXhM4Pd4bZxJ0UEkAzgpg
booking: datadyrepost@gmail.com

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Website:  https://isitjazzrecords.no/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/IsItJazzRecords/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isitjazzrecords/
Contact:  post@isitjazzrecords.no