Posts Tagged ‘Jazz Improv’

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 or on their website at

A video of LEAGUS live at the Kulturhuset  in Tromsø  can be seen below and at

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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