BLACK IS THE COLOR OF MY TRUE LOVE'S HAIR / NORWEGIAN FOLK JAZZ / 1971-1977
Digipack CD with 24 page booklet / gatefold LP
This compilation is named after the folk song Black is the color, a melody that became famous when artists such as Nina Simone, Joan Baez, Patty Waters and Cathy Berbarian recorded their own interpretations of it in the 60s. During the last two decades the fusion of folk music and jazz has produced some of Norway’s bestselling jazz records, from Arild Andersen to Dag Arnesen Trio. But this release aims to present the early folk jazz scene in Norway between the years 1971-1977, when the Norwegian folk song heritage was interpreted in different progressive ways by some of Norway’s top musicians.?This compilation contains music from the different folk jazz LP releases by Anne Karin Tønset & Harald Gundhus Å de va du, å de va je; Various artists Østerdalsmusikk; Egil ‘Bop’ Johansen Samse tak!I; Roy Hellvin Roy Hellvin; Arne Domnérus Sekstett Ja, vi älskar; Søyr Søyr; Christian Eggen Ufuge as well as unreleased recordings by Egil Kapstad and Helge Hurum & Birgitte Grimstad taken from the NRK Radio Archives.
The music ranges from the beautiful trio recordings by Egil Kapstad and Roy Hellvin to the psych excursions by Egil "Bop" Johansen with Terje Rypdal on fuzzrock madness. You will hear some obscure dancefloor fillers by Østerdalsmusikk and Anne Karine Tønset & Harald Gundhus, the latin grooves of the band Søyr and for the first time you will get to listen to banned jazz version of the Norwegian national anthem Ja vi elsker by Arne Domnerus Sextett which caused a national outcry when it first was released in 1976. ?But the jazz musicians found in this compilation weren't the first musicians to reclaim traditional Norwegian folk music in a modern context: Norwegian classical composers like Edvard Grieg and Harald Sæverud had already been diggin` in the crates and used folk melodies in their compositions since the late 19th century. The first Norwegian folk jazz tune was recorded way back in 1929: Norwegian Jazz fantasy part 1 & 2 by Kristian Hauger Jazzorkester. A major breakthrough occurred in 1963 when Swedish pianist Jan Johansson released the album Jazz på svenska (Jazz in Swedish) - combining modal jazz improvisations with Swedish folk songs.
This approach spread to other European jazz scenes, and soon Norwegian jazz musicians found themselves going back to their roots, discovering hundreds of springare, polser, slåtter, stev, ringleiker, bånsuller, bruremarsjer psalms and hallinger that had been sung by their ancestors. Especially important was the discovery of the book Østerdalsmusikken written by musicologist Ole Mørk Sandvik in 1943, where these traditional songs and dances were transcribed, with notations and lyrics, for the first time, the book becoming the `bible` for the folk jazz scene. This renewed interest in traditional folk culture - music, dialects and traditional bunad costumes - was no coincidence. It accompanied a period of political struggle in the run-up to the referendum of 1972 when a majority of Norwegians voted no to joining the European Federation (the European Union).
Left-wing Norwegian record labels and publishing houses like MAI, OKTOBER and PAX joined the struggle against American cultural imperialism by promoting local music and poetry, signing acts and authors that promoted their anti-EU-cause. At the same time, many musicians felt that jazz had lost its innovative edge after the explorations of jazz-rock and Miles' electric albums, and started exploring their roots to find fresh inspiration. Where their afro-American colleagues had used African music and old work songs to establish the jazz idiom, Norwegian musicians went back to their musical roots to find their own unique style of jazz and identity in the genre, often referred to as the Nordic Sound.