A concert venue one shouldn’t forget when in Oslo, is Herr Nilsen, the jazz pub right in the middle of the city. It is situated in front of the City Court House, in one of the many turn-of-the century (19th) German style houses that is still the most important part of Oslo’s architectural identity.

This is, by the way, another occasion where I can’t really write a recension, since I know one of the musicians in one of the bands pretty well, but let it be said that I heard a rock guitar hero one Friday and a Weather Report-inspired electric jazz trio the next.

I was always more into jazz than rock, and so is Herr Nilsen, but lately curiosity has led me to shake my musical prejudices a bit. Last Friday I listened to Frode Alnæs playing brilliantly rock guitar and singing well, but occasionally during the evening actually going into landscapes that for me was completely shaking the ground. I’m talking about real noisy rock stuff, parallel maybe to some contemporary music I’ve come across.

But the pub is after all more of a jazz place. The real intensity of jazz, I feel, comes more often in the rhythm than in the sound, although I won’t stress that point too much.

The mix of strange keyboard sounds and rhythmic mania given by the “Elegant People” trio last Friday is anyway closer to home for me than great rock guitar playing or the distortion of sound, although, you never know what can become useful experiences.

This band, anyway, admitted to trying to approach the famous Joe Zawinul & co. improvisationally, and I guess through exploring themes more than playing actual tunes. The result was anyway (for me) spanning from the
feeling of getting a new outlook on fields that I could recognise, to absolutely experimental, completely new discoveries, not least expressing itself in the sound, which undermines the point I made above about rhythm and sound.

The mixing of genres is everywhere in the rhythmical field, it seems, not least in the planning of programs for the season. I have been an occasional guest in Herr Nilsen for many years, and I have mostly been interested in mainstream jazz. Still, there are apparently a lot of other things I could expect to hear, when I look at their program I find established singer-songwriters, what seems to be international jazz/folk music stars, perhaps there will be up and coming jazz or other talents at jam sessions, and the mainstream jazz the place is known for is of course also there.

Sorry, I’ve given in to the temptation of editing this post after publishing.