Nordic Masters of Jazz Drums A-F

For everything there is a season. A time to fight. A fight for tactical retreat. A time to rally and re-engage.

And a time to wave the white flag.

That’s where we are now, with funny names, and jazz. And Norwegians. And drums.

See, I’m not even going to try this time, is what I’m saying. I’m just giving it all straight to the Norsemen. Or, as the case may be, Nørsèwômên.

Håppy, güys?

Let’s just get this over with, Økåy?

A is for Knut Aalefjær, a drummer, percussionist and composer born in 1974, just before I entered high school and got into my “jazz phase.” I’m sure Kerbey can do something with that name, but my mind’s a blank.

Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome. Which is kinda knutty because Stockholm isn’t even in Norway. (I guess it’s Oslo day for wordplay.)

B is for Stein Inge Brækhus (born 1967), Ivar Loe Bjørnstad (b. 1981) and Øyvind Brandtsegg (b. 1971), who confirm my suspicion that most Norwegian jazz musicians (and there are a LOT of them) tend to have been born in the 70s or 80s. Someday, someone is going to have to explain the background of this Norwegian jazz renaissance to me. But, another story for another day.

C is for Jon Ivar Christensen (b. 1943) and Svein “Chrico” Christiansen (b. 1941), an older generation of jazzmen, with similar last names. Neither one is particularly outstanding on the Funny Name Index (FNI), but both are major figures in the International and Norwegian jazz scenes, respectively. Jon Christensen is at least on my top twenty list of jazz drummers for his layered, complex, understated drumming style. It first caught my attention on Ralph Towner’s Solstice album (1974).

Where were we? Oh, yeah.

D is for Børre Dalhaug (b. 1974), another name where you have to wonder, “What’s Kerb gonna do with this one?” And, “No, seriously. Come on! What is it about the 70s and 80s and Norwegian jazz births?”

The other thing about D is that it also has some competition from the Scandinavian sounding Buddy Deppenschmidt (b. 1936) of the U.S.A. and Benjamin “Buzzy” Drootin (1920-2000), also of the U.S.A. but born in the Ukraine. Plus, there’s Jack DeJohnette (b. 1942), whose name may not be outstanding sounding on the FNI, but hey, he’s one of my all time favorite drummers.


(I’d give something to get this album on CD. Used to have it on vinyl.)

What’s up next? Right, E.

E is for Torstein Ellingsen (b. 1966) who no doubt played some Duke Ellington standards, and beats out the more placidly named Kenneth Ekornes (b. 1974). He has two other things going for him: 1) If his first and last names were reversed I wouldn’t even notice. 2) His photo is a great testament to brush sticks. Cheers, Torstein.

Also, we can’t pass E by without a shout out to Peter Erskine (b. 1954). ‘Sup, Peter? Like your work, dude.

Norwegians are probably mad that I post about their jazz musicians but don’t embed enough of their music. They’ll be even madder when I announce our pick for F, Jon Fält (b. 1979) who’s actualy from Sweden. But it’s just next to Norway, so you can’t Fält me too much for that, right?

Now, speaking of drums, we want to drum up more support for our man, Dave. Please click on the link below.

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11 Responses to Nordic Masters of Jazz Drums A-F

  1. kerbey says:

    Once again, Diddy, you have posted for the 19 people who know about Nordic jazz in this world of ours. I know nothing Nordic, but I DO know a 46-year-old pal who was born weighing 1 lb who just had his FIRST baby and named her Astrid, and that HAS to be Nordic. Also, I know nothing of jazz, but as it happens, I found a Herbie Hancock bio at the Dollar Store (I’m a baller, as you’ve suspected all along), and I read it nightly in the bath. He speaks of being in the Miles Davis Quintet and how Miles told him to drop his left hand one night so that he would have no harmonies to play and “free up” his right hand to get creative. He speaks of butter notes and shading and colors that horns make, and I feel functionally braindead. So OBVIOUSLY I am familiar with naught of these funny-named folks. How do you find folks to talk shop with? I need to know this. It’s like a super-specialized brand of intellectual capacity that blows us all away.

    I will say that Børre Dalhaug reminds me of a slang term “doll hog,” like the fella who gets all the broads, despite his being a bore. Or he could be one of those crazy old lady hoarders who buys wide-eyed dolls bc nobody likes her and she thinks the dolls are her friends. Is Knut’s last name prounced like L-F-J-R? I keep wanting to say Jafar, but that’s not sounding it out correctly. Knut reminds me of Brut cologne. So between that and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad (or Born-STUD) and Øyvind Brandtsegg (Brand’s Egg), I’m feeling very fertile today. Is that what jazz does?

    • wdydfae says:

      Kerb, you didn’t disappoint!

      Hey, there’s a lot of folks around here that know their jazz, including ksbeth, rio and Fannie, not to mention Dave (and probably Arto) and definitely Amb (though “around here” is stretching it, I admit, since Amb wanders where she wilt), so I’m not totally alone here.

      But yeah, it’s just like with most of the stuff I’m into; I usually can’t find anyone IRL to talk about it. Including religion!

      I pretty much like all kinds of music, but there’s something jazz can do (and sometimes jam bands like the Grateful Dead) which is improvisation, where you don’t know what’s coming next and it could go any number of different ways, but still holds together, and unexpected things just come into being. Plus, the jazz rhythm section (keyboards, bass, drums)–there’s just nothing else like it. But I don’t think it’s rocket science!

      That Herbie bio sounds cool. If it makes you feel any better, “butter notes” totally lost me, too. But I know Miles brought out some great stuff from Herbie (and just about everybody), and Herbie himself went on to lead some great groups. You could compare it I suppose to King Dave and our bunch.

      I recalled George Duke talking about Frank Zappa, because it seems related to what Herbie is talking about in your book:

      • kerbey says:

        Most of the book is just what you’re saying, total improv at each gig and pushing the boundaries and letting everyone solo in different ways. Sounds like Frank loved to experiment as well. That’s a funny parallel to Frank buying him a synthesizer bc Miles made Herbie use a Fender “electric piano” for a recording session, and he didn’t want to use anything electric, but then it expanded his mind, and now he’s known for that sound.

  2. ksbeth says:

    buddy d and buzzy d could be characters in a disney film, looney cousins, who drop everything to improv a few bars and play off of each other without explanation, have their own curling team with loud plaid pants, and then go back to their jobs in their cubicles living seemingly ordinary lives as actuaries.

  3. I leave for vacation and this is what I missed. Impressive list.

    I haven’t heard of any of the musicians listed in your post, but I have been to Norway and can completely see the jazz scene birthing itself in the 70’s and 80’s there.

    Speaking of improv, one of my friends used to be the bass player for Metal Church in his youth. He’s now in a local band, we heard him in concert a couple years ago and it “blues” me away that he was playing jazz. Of course, he is half Norwegian.

  4. tabbyrenelle says:

    wow… I’m going to have to actually spend some more time on these. They don’t entice me off the bat. I am curious why they all feel like I’m struggling to fly when I listen to them. Thanks for the exposure to the somewhat familiar vocabulary in jazz sounds with the regular expectation I reach due to invitation… but why am I feel ing roughed up? Part of me likes the difficulty so I hope you take no offense in the miles I have to go before I sleep…

  5. tabbyrenelle says:

    Hi again… I drove thru the Mt. Shasta region once while listening to this (before the present California to Oregon wildfires) and it was all blue like this album and it reminded me of that Frost poem… about miles I go before I sleep… so not to be cryptic…

    hope you like. 🙂
    I enjoy your blog very much!

  6. Pingback: Greeks of Amherst: A Handful of Jazzfolk | The Blog of Funny Names

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