Arve Henriksen is undoubtedly one of the great innovators of his instrument, the trumpet. In fact, ‘innovator’ does not capture the nature of his art, for he does not simply come up with new musical traits and qualities but has been one to rethink, or re-explore, the fundamental and physical aspects of his instrument and its “thingliness”. For this he is regarded a visionary, and he has been one to introduce entirely new modes of making and experiencing music. Part of this is influenced by Japanese culture, not just music, but a fundamental mindset; the notion of the “thingly” and autonomous self-being of instruments and sounds.
This winter saw the release of his third solo album Strjon, which is named after his native west-Norwegian village Stryn, the ancient name of which signifies flowing water. Upon its release Henriksen revealed his discovery of the profundity of influences that stem from one’s native place and from growing up. -Influences that are not directly musical but belong to a composite and transcendent realm of experiences. In this, he related, is the mystery of utmost nearness that has become strange and which is therefore in want of rediscovery. This is the background of Strjon.
One accustomed to acclaim -to the extent of having been bequeathed a unique place in contemporary jazz by critics- Arve Henriksen is a humble artist. The release of Strjon was downplayed: “I don’t need or want to make noise around my career, said Henriksen at the time, my music is patient; it can take its time, and will be discovered by those it addresses.
This week the Guardian reviewed Strjon, taking up the vein of “elementary” conceptions:
Much of the set sounds more like musical mirroring of changing weather conditions than jazz - the deep, abrasively distorted opening is like a ship's timbers flexing in a storm. Some of the music features a dreamily isolated Henriksen, some brings slowly flailing rock riffs in behind him, some is spooky, organ-churning Gothic crypt-music, some distantly but tantalisingly, jazzy. The two-minute title track simply sounds like a distant army on horseback, but there are moments in Glacier Descent and the tender In the Light that suggest that long-gone, lyrical, early Miles Davis sound. He's in a world of his own, in every sense.
Towards the end of May Henriksen will be one of the main attractions at Nattjazz in Bergen and also at the International Festival –Festspillene- in the same city.
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