by Ian Mann
December 19, 2021
Ian Mann enjoys this solo livestream performance from the Norwegian pianist and composer Kjetil Mulelid and takes a look at his career to date.
Kjetil Mulelid, Solo piano livestream for the Reworks Festival, Thessaloniki, Greece.
First streamed 14/12/2021.
Kjetil Mulelid – piano
It was recently my good fortune to stumble upon this Facebook livestream featuring a solo performance by the Norwegian pianist and composer Kjetil Mulelid.
It was an event commissioned by the Reworks Festival based in Thessaloniki, Greece, in association with the We Are Europe organisation.
Mulelid’s performance was actually recorded in June 2021 at the Galleri Festiviteten in Eidsvoll, Norway and features him playing a Sauter grand piano in the gallery space, with a variety of artworks adorning the walls.
Mulelid was performing music from his excellent solo piano album, simply titled “Piano”, which was released by the esteemed Norwegian record label Rune Grammofon in March 2021.
The idea for a solo piano album had first been suggested to Mulelid by Rune Grammofon in 2018 but the pianist was initially sceptical, preferring to concentrate on working with his trio and with the numerous other groups with which he is involved.
However with the onset of the Covid pandemic the idea increasingly began to appeal to him and the bulk of the material was written during the first period of lockdown. The album was then recorded over the course of a single (very hot) day in June 2020 at the Norwegian studio Athletic Sound on a Bosendorfer grand piano dating from 1919.
My review of the “Piano” album can be found here;
As this was a free to air transmission I don’t intend to write a blow by blow account of the performance but would instead direct interested listeners / viewers to Mulelid’s Facebook page from which the video of the performance can still be accessed, and of course to the excellent “Piano” album itself.
The performance features Mulelid’s English language announcements with the programme consisting of the following pieces, the majority of them sourced from the “Piano” album;
“For You I’ll Do Anything”
“Point Of View”
I’m eager to bring this performance and its companion recording to public attention as The Jazzmann has enjoyed a productive mutual relationship with Mulelid over a number of years, reviewing a number of recordings with which he has been involved.
Here’s how I summarised the “Piano” album;
“‘Piano’ is is a highly intimate record with a strong melodic focus and an emphasis on atmosphere and narrative rather than complexity and technique. There’s a simplicity and a sense of calmness in many of these compositions, the often lyrical and tranquil mood strangely at odds with the stresses of lockdown. Perhaps Mulelid was relishing the opportunity of temporarily stepping off the recording/touring treadmill of the professional musician and simply enjoying the chance to take stock. The result is an album that is both charming and accessible, capable of reaching out to a wide audience while still retaining enough substance to continue to appeal to the more demanding listener.”
These qualities apply equally to this livestream performance.
KJETIL MULELID - BIOGRAPHY
The following biographical details, lifted directly from my “Piano” review explain a little more about Mulelid and his musical career and about this Anglo-Norwegian friendship;
“ ‘Piano’ is Mulelid’s third album for the Rune Grammofon label following the release of his two acclaimed trio releases “Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House” (2018) and “What You Thought Was Home” (2019). Both albums feature his regular trio with bassist Bjorn Marius Hegge and drummer Andreas Skar Winther and both have been reviewed elsewhere on the Jazzmann.
Mulelid was raised in the small Norwegian village of Hurdal and has been playing piano since the age of nine, initially inspired by the music of Chopin, Beethoven and Debussy. He later developed an interest in jazz and subsequently obtained a bachelor degree in jazz performance from the NTNU in Trondheim before becoming a professional jazz musician.
Ironically he nearly didn’t become a professional pianist at all. In his teens he played electric guitar, influenced by rock groups such as Queen and Led Zeppelin, only returning to the piano when a teacher introduced him to the delights of jazz, gospel and boogie woogie.
Mulelid first came to my attention in 2013 as part of the Nordic trio Lauv (the group name is the Norwegian for “Leaf”), who released the highly promising EP “De Som Er Eldre Enn Voksne” in that year, the title translating as “Those Who Are Older Than Adults”. My review of the EP can be read here.
The following year I enjoyed seeing Mulelid perform live at the 2014 Cheltenham Jazz Festival when he was one of the star soloists at the annual Trondheim Jazz Exchange event, which sees students from the Jazz courses at the Birmingham and Trondheim Conservatoires combining to make music together and presenting the results to the jazz going public.
Mulelid is a typical young jazz musician of today, involved in a variety of genre defying projects embracing a broad range of musical influences. Lauv is no more but Mulelid leads his own piano trio (as previously discussed), forms half of the duo Kjemilie with vocalist Emilie Vasseljen Storaas and is part of the group Fieldfare, a song based, more pop orientated outfit featuring Winther, vocalist Siril Maldemal Hauge, and former Lauv bassist Bardur Reinert Poulsen.
Mulelid and Poulsen are also members of the instrumental quartet Wako, a group that also includes saxophonist Martin Myhre Olsen (who appeared at the Trondheim Jazz Exchange event in 2012) and drummer Simon Olderskog Albertsen. Their début album, 2015’s “The Good Story” was very well received by the Norwegian jazz media.
At first Wako appeared to be primarily Olsen’s project. The saxophonist wrote all the compositions and arrangements for the group’s second album “Modes for All Eternity” (2017), an ambitious but largely successful collaboration between the Wako quartet and three members of Oslo Strings, violinist Kaja Constance Rogers, violist Isa Caroline Holmesland and cellist Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen. My review of that album can be read here;
In 2018 Wako released a second quartet album, “Urolige Sinn”, for the Ora Fonogram label, a recording featuring compositions by both Olsen and Mulelid.
This was followed in February 2020 by the group’s fourth album, simply titled “Wako”, which again featured pieces by both of the quartet’s composers. The recording also featured the contributions of a number of guest musicians, among them trumpeter Arve Henriksen.
Wako’s latest release is “Live In Oslo”, recorded at two separate dates in the city in 2020 during periods of relaxation in lockdown restrictions. The recording features the core quartet plus contributions from guest musicians Tore Brunborg (tenor sax), Lars Horntveth (bass clarinet, steel guitar), Adrian Loseth Waade (violin) and Kyrre Laastad (vibes, percussion, electronics), the majority of whom had also appeared on the “Wako” album. The material, much of it sourced from the latest studio recording, includes compositions by both Olsen and Mulelid.
Mulelid also collaborates with Olsen as part of the saxophonist’s MMO Ensemble, a
jazz/classical quartet that also features vocalist Hauge and cellist Pettersen and is inspired by the poetry of Emily Dickinson.
Mulelid, Olsen and Hauge have also been part of the Norwegian sextet Wild Things Run Fast, a tribute to the music of Joni Mitchell.
For further information regarding Kjetil Mulelid please visit his website; https://kjetilmulelid.com/
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