Ole Edvard Antonsen has been the leading classical trumpeter in Norway for many years. We have some other great trumpeters, too, but none as versatile as Antonsen. In 1992 he released Tour de Force after having released a CD with French classical trumpet concertos. Tour de Force was something totally different, it sold 150.000 copies and won him a Spellemannpris (Norwegian Grammy). Last night he played songs from Tour de Force and two following CDs live at the National Opera.
What made Tour de Force special, was the idea of releasing an instrumental album with a mix of pop, rock and folk-like melodies mixed together, and performed with pop/rock musicians and giving it a pop sound. The CD was a huge hit, and I also liked it a lot when it came out. The only thing I didn’t like, was that the drums were programmed, no real drummer, but the rest was good.
Last night Ole Edvard Antonsen recreated the sound with a full band and one of Norway’s best and most experienced drummers, Per Hillestad. Together with him were brothers Jens Petter and Tom Erik Antonsen on trumpet and bass, Kjell Harald Litangen on guitar, Steffen Isaksen, keyboard, Even Stakkerud, trombone, Børge Are Halvorsen, saxophone and Rikke Norman and Julie Dahle Aagård, on backing vocals.
The concert started with the title song from Tour de Force and then straight into Antonsen’s version of the Aerosmith song, Janie’s Got A Gun. The first guest, Torstein Flakne, entered the stage before the song 5000 Miles, which he wrote, and which also Morten Harket has sung a cover of, then as Spanish Steps.
The next guest was Frode Alnæs, the composer of the most beautiful song on Tour de Force. He also stayed for another of his compositions, Pungjazz,a very jazzy song. From there Ole Edvard Antonsen and the band played three of Antonsen’s own songs before the grand finale with John Farnham’s You’re The Voice and Antonsen’s special version of Honky Tonk Women, now with both the guitar guests on stage. The encore was, as far as I could understand, Bosporus from the album Landscapes.
Ole Edvard Antonsen is an extremely versatile trumpeter. He plays ballads with feeling and full control, and he can do the high notes like Maynard Ferguson did. The band follows him in a perfect way, adding lots of detail to the songs. All of the musicians and singers in the band have experience as studio musicians and from several live settings, but it also shows when they play music they really like.
The setting, with a pop/jazz/rock setting in the National Opera house is a little bit strange to me. I am used to a standing audience, and I feel a seated audience don’t respond in the same way as a standing audience. When that is said, the concert hall was almost sold out, and the audience seemed to have a great time. They can’t blame Ole Edvard Antonsen and the band if they didn’t enjoy themselves.
All pictures are © Per Ole Hagen and must not be used without written permission.