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The oldest of five children, I was born in Oslo, October 5th 1970. We moved to the village Hurdal in Akershus, Norway in 1973, where my brothers and sisters were all born. I grew up in this rural area, while always having the city of Oslo as a cultural point of reference. Playing the piano since the age of 4, I started composing and improvising before learning to read music and perform classical pieces. (I am deeply grateful to my father for bringing music into my life the way he did.) I played in churches and local settings of different kinds, combining classical training with writing my own songs and performing gospel music and jazz-fusion. I played the piano with choirs ("Sarepta", Jessheim Ten Sing "Yessing"), and vocal-piano quintet "Ichtys", while attending school at Kjerkekretsen barneskole (primary school), Hurdal ungdomsskole (secondary school), and Jessheim videregående skole (high school). Guiding me in my classical training, teachers Kristin Sandholt at Nannestad community music school, and Hanna Marie Weydahl (assistant professor at Norges Musikkhøgskole the Academy of Music, Oslo) were important during this time.
At the age of 19, I moved back to Oslo to study at the University of Oslo. Here, my interest in jazz really started to flourish. However, I studied sociology, psychology and the history of religions up to the level of a cand.mag. or Bachelor degree. I did my "siviltjeneste" (social work instead of joining the armed forces) at Kirkens Bymisjon (Church City Mission) in Oslo for a year and a half, where I also kept working as a pianist later on. I played with the jazz bands "GEST" and "BALSAM", which were both important in bringing me the experiences of creative jazz work. At this time I also met vocalist Kristin Asbjørnsen, whose artistic thoroughness and expressive powers have had a lasting and formative effect on my journey.
I applied for the jazz department at the Conservatory of Music in Trondheim, Norway and was accepted in 1993. The jazz education in Trondheim was fruitful, with special thanks to Erling Aksdal for his harmony and ear training classes, and to Jon Pål Inderberg for his methods of oral transmission in developing improvisational and stylistic skills. While in Trondheim, I also formed several bands and played with a number of great musicians. The late Geir Digernes stands out among them, and I will never forget his beautiful bass playing and his supportive being, both musically and personally. I played with bass player Odd Magne Gridset, tuba player David Gald, saxophonist Eirik Hegdal, drummer Magnus Forsberg and several others, while also continuing my work with singer Kristin Asbjørnsen, both in a duo setting and with the quartets SirkelSaga (exploring original compositions) and Aggravatin' Papa (developing a fresh approach to the songs of Bessie Smith). Several of the Trondheim musicians are still important friends and colleagues of mine (cf. The Music). We played at festivals, clubs and churches all over Southern Norway with a number of these constellations, and we also toured Sweden and Finland with "Jazzprosjekt '95".
Having finished three years of training in jazz piano, jazz history, improvisational techniques, composition and analysis in Trondheim, I moved back to Oslo. Here, I pursued my career as a freelance musician, while also commencing my second wave of academic studies at the University of Oslo. Over a two-and-a-half years' time I obtained the cand.philol. degree in musicology (this degree resembles something in between a master and a Ph.D.), specializing in the psychology and phenomenology of improvisation, while also attending courses in general analysis, composition and philosophy of music (cf. The Theory).
In Oslo, I now live at Sofienberg in the eastern part of the central city. I practice, rehearse, play concerts, go on tours, and continue my research. I also taught jazz piano part time at the University of Oslo, Department of Musicology for a few years. In January 1999 I released my first official CD (aire & angels) with singer Siri Gjære. During 2000 another two CD's involving me were released ("Port of Call" with Silje Nergaard and "First Meeting" with the Nymark Collective). Three more releases came in 2001 (with Carl Petter Opsahl, with Funky Butt, and a second one with Silje Nergaard, "At First Light"). In 2002 came the release of Nymark Collective's second album "Contemporary Tradition" and also a second aire & angels album simply called "aire & angels II". These projects and recordings are all very important in making up my musical path so far.
In 2003, I released my first solo album with my trio, "Changing Places" on ECM Records. Exciting things happened with this; there was a great deal of enthusiasm all around the world among listeners and critics alike. The trio toured extensively after the release, playing in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Japan and Australia. 2005 saw a second trio album, entitled "The Ground", and in 2007 we released "Being There", completing a trilogy of trio albums on ECM. Bass player Harald Johnsen passed away in 2011 after a few years of illness. We will always be thankful to him for what he brought to the world, and his longing for open beauty
2009 saw the launch of a new and somewhat more flexible ensemble, with the release of the album "Restored, Returned", including Tore Brunborg on saxophones and Kristin Asbjørnsen on vocals. This was followed by an instrumental quartet album called "The Well" in 2012. The extended ensemble and the quartet - with occassional performances also in duo and trio formats with the same musicians - stands as the perfect combination of flexibility and stability for me. Essentially, it is one band and one approach to music evolving organically. Still, we get to look at the music from different angles and highlight different aspects of the soundscape. And I get to play with the best musicians I know - I am so grateful to you all.
I have done several commissioned works, and received a few grants and awards - please turn to the extended cv document for this info. The commissioned works have all been integrated in various ways into the ensemble's evolving touring repertoir, and thus they form a very organic part of the musical organism.
I also keep playing with other musicians alongside my own ensemble/quartet/trio; although not as frequently as before. In general, interactive work is still just as important as solo featuring... The project with vocalist Solveig Slettahjell stands out as one of the most treasured things I have done in later years, playing stripped-down meditative-but-creative versions of Christmas hymns. I have also written compositions and arrangements for the brilliant choir SKRUK and done several albums and tours with them.
Among my most important co-workers at this stage are Tore Brunborg, Mats Eilertsen, Jarle Vespestad, Kristin Asbjørnsen, Solveig Slettahjell, Nils Økland, Carl Petter Opsahl, and actress Cecilie Jørstad. I am grateful to them all for making music with me and inspiring me in many ways.
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