European song treasures in Norwegian.With his new album Jørn Simen Øverli gives us a shortcut into recent European cultural history. The title of the album is “Vidunderlig” [Wonderful], and performing with Øverli are singer Siril Malmedal Hauge and accordion player Espen Leite. Together they are the Jørn Simen Øverli Trio.

Two guest singers also contribute on the new album: Tora Augestad and Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer. Øverli plays guitar on the album, and you will also hear Siril Malmedal Hauge on mandolin. The trio creates an imaginative, beautiful and tactile soundscape with a series of duets, mixed with some humorous and burlesque moments.

Malmedal Hauge, who recently won the “jazz talent of the year” award during the Molde Jazz Festival, is puzzled by why we know so little about music from our own region of the world:

As a young musician I have reaped so incredibly many impulses from music from the West; popular culture and music genres established in the US, and which influence what we listen to and turn towards here in Norway. But what about the traditions from other countries in Europe? Like Poland, Belgium, Germany and our huge neighbour Russia?

Even though she studied music at university, she had never been exposed to composers and poets such as Vladimir Vysotsky, Jacques Brel, Bertholt Brecht and Agnieszka Osiecka. Jørn Simen Øverli, who has dedicated much of his career to introducing Polish and Russian lyric poetry to Norwegians, managed to kindle her interest in a part of European cultural history that is virtually unknown in this country.

For the trio’s new project, Øverli has collected a treasure trove full of cultural history from Europe. This is music which is important for many hundreds of millions of people, but which most people in Norway have hardly ever heard.

Jørn Simen Øverli is captivated by the importance of these songs on many levels, giving us some examples:

Like when we played some of these songs at a concert, and the lady who worked in the bar was from Poland. She broke into tears because someone in her new country was singing her songs! Her grandmother had sung these songs to her when she was little. This is her history.

Another example is that the activists in the Solidarity Movement in Poland would not have managed to force Soviet Communism to its knees and start to bring down the Wall, resulting in the end of the Cold War, without the power and inspiration their songs gave them. The state authorities in Poland today are so afraid of what happened then that they have removed the history of Solidarity from the history textbooks in the country’s schools.

Øverli is convinced that these songs can help us to understand each other, and ourselves, better. Who we are. Where we come from. What has shaped us. What is important to us. What we have deep inside ourselves.

With Jørn Simen Øverli’s reinterpretations into Norwegian, the songs function as shortcuts into recent European cultural history. His vision is to help us to think a little bit differently and to bring us closer together across the European continent.

The new album, recorded at Kulturkirken Jakob by Erik Hillestad, will be released on KKV on 16 October 2020.

About the musicians in the JØRN SIMEN ØVERLI TRIO:

Siril Malmedal Hauge is, according to the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten, “A voice for the future” and was crowned as “the jazz talent of the year” during the Molde Jazz Festival in 2020. She studied Jazz at the University of Trondheim, has won several jazz awards, and is working on new releases, a CD with Jacob Young and a CD with her own material. She is frequently heard at important jazz festivals with various bands. www.sirilmalmedalhauge.com

Espen Leite is one of the foremost accordion players in Norway. He has worked extensively as a theatre musician and composer, and is performing in the autumn of 2020 in play with Lasse Kolsrud in Det norske Teatret [the Norwegian Theatre in Oslo]. Espen’s playing, transcending genres, is powerful and poetic.

Jørn Simen Øverli, one of the grand old men in Norwegian folk and ballad music, has won and been nominated for several music awards. He has also won awards for his reinterpretations and has given concerts in most municipalities in Norway, solo, as a duo, trio or with his own band. For years he worked with Stian Carstensen, Arve Henriksen, Henning Sommerro, Tora Augestad and Helge Lien. He has been the artistic manager of Josefine Visescene (Cultural Centre) in Oslo for 25 years, has written several books about folk songs and ballads and released 14 CDs. His special interest has been reinterpreting lyric poetry from Central and Eastern Europe. See www.jornsimen.no

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