Folk artist hooked on to jazz

Jazz artist Ola Kvernberg practising on the violin.  

His great grandfather was a great folk music composer in Norway and wrote a lot of fiddle tunes. That is perhaps why he started playing Norwegian folk music right from childhood. However during his teen years, he was attracted to legendary jazz violinists Stephane Grapelle and Svend Asmussen who performed with a guitar-bass-drums-combo on a record called "Two of Kind".

Having undergone classical training in violin himself, the young Ola Kvernberg was completely astonished by their music. "In the beginning, I played folk and classical music. I remember that as kids I along with my sister learnt a lot of folk tunes. Then I discovered jazz through records of masters and during my early days, I wanted to sound exactly like the records I listened to," says the 22-year-old Norwegian, currently pursuing jazz studies at the Music Conservatory of Trondheim, Norway.

Here for a performance at FICCI Auditorium on Friday as part of the three-day Jazz Yatra event, in which nine jazz bands from across the globe will participate, Ola said his music was still very much inspired by the classical tradition. "There is no well defined jazz tradition in Norway. The most popular styles have music that is a blend of folk and jazz. However, Norwegian jazz is not rigid and a lot of experimentation goes on," says the artist who along with three other members of his band called the Ola Kvernberg Quartet - guitarist Bjorn Hummelsund, drummer Hakon Mjaset Johansen and bass player Steinar Raknes - have given electrifying performances all over Europe.

Having recorded more than 6 albums in two years, Ola is looking forward to his performance on Friday. "This is my first visit to India," he admits. "Since India too has a strong classical tradition, I am sure people will like my performance. However, my music can be described as closer to the American jazz tradition," he informs, adding that electronic music was also quite popular in Norway. "I write my own compositions and needless to say, there are elements of folk music in my jazz."

Folk music is still popular in Norway, points out the Norwegian artist, informing that it varies from area to area and from region to region. "There are different professional schools of folk music," he points out, adding: "though jazz is different from folk, it can be effectively combined and that is what I would strive for in future."

While Ola began playing with the Norwegian string swing band Hot Club De Norvege, his natural feel for swing and elegant phrasing has made him a popular jazz artist. And during the last three years, Ola has performed at several jazz festivals. "We carry no attitudes in matters of style while performing. In Norway, things are very free and we can check out whatever we want," says the Norwegian artist.

By Kannan K