Tag Archives: Børre Frydenlund

IN THE SACRED NAME OF LOUIS: THE NORWEGIAN JAZZ KINGS “Live at Stortorvets Gjæstgiveri, Oslo, February 17, 2018”

I think of the deliriously pleasurable precedent established by Bent Persson and friends some forty years ago — that of understanding Louis Armstrong and colleagues so deeply and expertly that they could move in and out of his music, embellishing a characteristic phrase here or there, reminding us gently of a particularly memorable invention, but ultimately, going for themselves.  Bent and colleagues are still playing beautifully, but here are some slightly younger players from Norway, having the most wonderful time with Louis’ music.  These three performances were recorded at Stortorvets Gjæstgiveri, Oslo, on February 17, 2018, and they are made available to us through reed virtuoso Lars Frank’s YouTube channel.

They are the Norwegian Jazz Kings, and I am not going to argue with a single letter of that band-title.  On trumpet and cornet, Torstein Kubban; on clarinet and saxophone, Lars Frank; playing the bass saxophone and sousaphone, Christian Frank; piano, Morten Gunnar Larsen; banjo and guitar, Børre Frydenlund.  I have a particularly warm feeling for Torstein, Lars, and Morten, because I met and spoke with them several times at the jazz party formerly known as the Whitley Bay Jazz Party.  Christian and Børre I know from recordings, and admire them deeply as well.  (Incidentally, the gentleman sitting right in front of the sousaphone is friend-of-jazz, patron-of-the-arts, and record producer Trygve Hernaes, whom I also know from visits to Newcastle.)

These three videos honor the exalted period of Louis’ life when he was working with Earl Hines, Johnny Dodds, Baby Dodds, and Zutty Singleton.  Certainly regal even if not Norwegian.

I don’t know the order in which these pieces were performed, but let’s begin this blogpost with the lyrical and majestic TWO DEUCES, by Miss Lil:

Here’s a riotous but precise frolic on COME ON AND STOMP STOMP STOMP.  I had to play it several times because I couldn’t believe it.  I’m amazed that the fire marshals were not called in.  (I adore the translated title on the Dodds record.  Don’t you?):

And for me what is the piece de reistance, POTATO HEAD BLUES.  In case of historical quibbling, just remember Louis’ words, “Cat had a head shaped like a potato”:

As befits any person or organization in this century, the Norwegian Jazz Kings have a Facebook page.  Those in the know will immediately go there and do the fashionable act of “liking” it.  And since the wonders of cyberspace are limitless, here you can read the menu of the Stortorvets Gjæstgiveri, an Oslo landmark since the 1700s.  It made me hungry and wistful at the same time.

What a band, balancing elegance and focused power.  I wish them well and look forward to more marvels.

May your happiness increase!


The story of Jack Teagarden’s appearance in New York in 1927 has the feeling of legend.  At a speakeasy, the young man from Texas astonishes everyone with a solo rendition of DIANE, then the blues.  Teagarden didn’t live long enough for anyone’s taste, but in the years that followed he continued to astonish and please musicians and audiences with his remarkable combination of relaxed ease and wondrous technical mastery.

Fast forward: I first encountered the brilliant young Norwegian trombonist Kristoffer Kompen at the Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival in 2011.  (I’d heard him first on the UNION RHYTHM KINGS compact disc — learn more here and here on this blog.  Type in “Kompen” in the search box on JAZZ LIVES, you can see and hear him play.)

Initially, Kris came on roaring like J.C. Higginbotham in the latter’s most fiery 1929-40 form.  I saw musicians staring at him in delighted wonder while he played, and I imagined them thinking, “Who is he?  Where did he come from?  And how does he play so well at his age?”

Yes, it is a critical cliche to call a young player “astonishingly mature,” but in Kris’s case the phrase is accurate.  He will be thirty in 2014 (I pause to let those numbers sink in).  He plays with a young man’s energy and delight . . . but with the intelligence, feeling, restraint, and taste of a much older player.

When he performed a tribute to Teagarden at last year’s Whitley Bay, it was again astonishing.  Without repeating Big T’s solos note-for-note, he had absorbed the glossy tone, the seemingly endless flow of ideas, the flying inventiveness, the deep sonorities, the wellsprings of feeling that were the heart of Teagarden’s style, on an uptempo LOVER or a slow blues.

I am delighted to report to you that Kris’ second CD has appeared on the Herman label (the creation of our friend Trygve Hernaes), recorded in April 2013 in Oslo — it’s called A TRIBUTE TO JACK TEAGARDEN, and it truly lives up to its name.  Jack didn’t sound like anyone else when he appeared, and Kris has accomplished the great art of playing himself while honoring the Master.

It’s not imitation but homage, and it’s beautiful throughout.

On the disc, he’s aided by a sweetly intuitive rhythm section, and the vocals are taken by the guitarist Borre Frydenlund, who manages to summon up Jack’s depths without copying him precisely.  The songs are all first-rate choices: BABY WON’T YOU PLEASE COME HOME? / I GOTTA RIGHT TO SING THE BLUES / LOVER / A HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY / DIANE / NOBODY KNOWS THE TROUBLE I’VE SEEN / LOVE ME / OLD FOLKS / I SWUNG THE ELECTION / MIS’RY AND THE BLUES / SWINGIN’ ON THE TEAGARDEN GATE / STARS FELL ON ALABAMA.

Here is STARS FELL ON ALABAMA from the CD:

And a live version of MIS’RY AND THE BLUES:

A live version of LOVER, which begins with The Master:

You can find out more about Kris, his many selves (as a composer, too)

here, and you can order the CD here.

May your happiness increase!