The Norwegian band Hot Club de Norvège started in 1979 and is till going strong as Norway’s leading band in their style. Touché is a new band who has taken upon them to give Hot Club de Norvège some competition. Friday night they played together at a double concert in Oslo, and the audience got the chance to see both the veterans and the new generation of Norwegian hot club bands.
The special style of jazz that these bands play, comes from Paris, where the Quintette du Hot Club de France started out in 1928 as a French answer to the American swing jazz. Soon there were many clubs that featured this music, and two of the leading musicians in what should become a very distinct sound, came from one of these clubs.
Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli were members of Louis Vola‘s band, and they were discovered during one of their jams in the intermission of the band’s concerts. They defined the special mix between swing jazz and Romani music played with acoustic guitars, no drums and violin.
Hot Club de Norvège are internationally renowned for their playing, and leader Jon Larsen is both the head of the Django Festival in Oslo that started in 1980, and he has his own record company, Hot Club Records. His band, which also consists of Per Frydenlund on guitar and vocal, Svein Aarbostad on bass and Finn Hauge on violin, chromatic harmonica and musica saw. Their set was brilliant, with virtuoso playing by Larsen, and informative and witty comments between the songs.
The new band Touché opened the concert before Hot Club de Norvège played. They are a much younger band, with Tobias Bergstrøm on guitar, Fredrik Solberg on bass, Hkon Aase on violin and Gildas le Pape on lead guitar. It was a great pleasure to hear Touché. They might lack some of Hot Club de Norvège’s polished perfection, but they have an enthusiasm and a lack of respect that shows. Their repertoir consisted of traditional Django Reinhardt material, mixed with their own songs, like the quirky song Snooze.
Gildas le Pape is a brilliant guitarist, and some of us have also seen him with the Norwegian black metal band Satyricon. It might be quite a distance between those two styles in terms of technique, approach, and also the use of technology, but Le Pape masters both worlds. His fellow musicians are also very good, and specially Fredrik Solberg’s bass solos were noteworthy.
At the end of the night, all the musicians came on stage for a couple of songs together. It was great fun to hear Jon Larsen and Gildas Le Pape’s guitar duels, and all the musicians looked like they enjoyed each other immensely. If you have a chance to see any of these bands, do it. You are guaranteed to have a good time, and you will also hear some excellent musicianship, whichever of the bands you see.
All the pictures are © Per Ole Hagen, and may not be used in any way without written permission.