Corea, Redman, Kvernberg To Headline MoldeJazz


Ola Kvernberg will serve as artist-in-residence of the 2016 Molde Jazz Festival, which takes place from July 18–23 in Molde, Norway.

(Photo: CF Wesenberg/Molde Jazz Festival)

The crown jewel of Norway’s rich and celebrated jazz festival season, the Molde Jazz Festival—aka Moldejazz—also boasts longevity points on a global scale. Having reached the ripe old/renewing age of 56 with this year’s event (July 18–23), Molde hosts one of the oldest jazz festivals anywhere, bringing visitors and artists to this idyllic northwestern fjord-adjacent town each July.

Beyond its inherent magnetism for tourism, Molde’s festival takes place squarely in the middle of Europe’s growing mid-summer festival circuit. Its programming is also held to a high artistic standard. Led by director Hans-Olav Solli, the festival continues its tradition of seeking out the delicate balance of American artists, European acts, popular hot tickets and more esoteric fare. Creating special events, artist residencies and outside-the-box jazz fodder is also of special importance to the Molde fest.

The artist-in-residence this year is Norwegian award-winning violinist-composer Ola Kvernberg, who will be involved in several projects over the course of the festival: Mechanical Fair, the percussive Steamdome, the trio of Kirsti, Ola and Erik (with singer Kirsti Huke and drummer Erik Nylander) and the festival closer, a traditional dawn concert (called a Morgengrykonserten in Norwegian) that Kvenberg has dubbed “Porkotta.”

Elsewhere, Kvernberg will perform with saxophonist Joshua Redman. He will also team up with violinist/violist Mat Maneri and the potentially fierce rhythm section of the punk-jazz trio The Thing (bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and powerhouse drummer Paal Nilssen-Love).

This year’s list of American artists includes pianist Chick Corea (a Molde artist-in-residence in 2000), the Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Kurt Elling, the duo of Pat Metheny (Molde artist-in-residence in 2001) and jazz bass legend Ron Carter, Esperenza Spalding (in her Emily D+Evolution persona) and genre-crossing singer Lizz Wright.

R&b singers Charles Bradley and Joss Stone satisfy more mainstream tastes, Steps Ahead brings its accessible energy, and Cory (Snarky Puppy) Henry brings his acclaimed, gospel-driven project, The Revival. On the left end of the musical spectrum, veteran and venturesome trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, presently high on the glowing response to his duet project with pianist Vijay Iyer, brings over the latest incarnation of a project with deepening roots, his Golden Quartet.

From Norway and points Scandinavian, the roster includes entrancing Norwegian-Sami saxophonist Mette Henriette, whose debut ECM album has launched her into a broader profile; Molde-born singer Ane Brun; and a collaborative project between Trail of Souls (singer Solveig Slettahjell and blues guitarist Knut Reiersrud) and the piano trio In The Country.

Top-selling Norwegian hip-hop duo Karpe Diem will perform, as will jazz-rock guitarist Hedvig Mollestad, with guest saxophonist Mats Gustafsson (who will also appear with The Thing).

Other worldly musical matters in Molde range from seasoned percussionist/project-maker Marilyn Mazur (whom Miles Davis invited onstage in Molde back in 1985, launching her short stint in Miles’ band) and her all-female band Shamania.

Another show to catch this year: wily and restlessly creative multi-instrumentalist Django Bates. A Brit based in Copenhagen, Bates will return to Molde to play—and improvise—with Lalaland, a trio of Norwegians Per Jørgensen, Ole Morten Vågan and Håkon Mjåset Johansen.

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