In 1990 jazz pianist Knut Kristiansen was engaged to document the music of the Kuria people in Nyanza, Kenya. This work resulted in a book and a music cassette, which is now being issued in a remastered version as a CD. The Kuria music impressed Kristiansen deeply. When he was commissioned to write a work to be played by Bergen Big Band at the Vossa Jazz Festival in 2011, he decided to immerse himself more fully in the material, and to use it as a point of departure for the work.
The fact that the city of Bergen is the home of one of Europe’s foremost interpreters of Thelonius Monk’s music is an important part of Knut Kristiansen’s story, but not the whole story.
Throughout a long life as a musician he has laid the groundwork for a lively jazz community, and has helped to strengthen music education in the city. In his early thirties he developed a deep interest in African and Cuban music. In 1982 he founded the two legendary projects Gambian-Norwegian Friendship Orchestra and Son Mu. The Gambian-Norwegian Friendship Orchestra released an LP, now out of print, on Odin Records. With Son Mu, Kristiansen also launched a fruitful collaboration with the Cuban saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera at the Vossa Jazz Festival in 1985. In 2008 and 2009 he presented concerts in a new project together with the West African singer, cora player and composer Mory Kanté. Knut Kristiansen won the Buddy Award in 1983, and the Vossa Jazz Prize in 1990.
Bergen Big Band
Bergen Big Band (BBB) is one of Norway’s leading big bands, and was established in 1991 as a continuation of Bergen Band. They have collaborated with the Core, Berit Opheim, Phil Woods, Paquito D’Rivera, Joe Henderson, Maria Schneider, Diana Krall, Sissel Kyrkjebø, Andy Sheppard, Gianluigi Trovesi, Mathias Eick, Dino Zaluzzi, Gustavo Bergalli and Jan Magne Førde. A work the band commissioned from Terje Rypdal, “Crime Scene”, was released on CD by ECM in 2009.
The album was recorded at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s studio in Bergen with technician Per Ravnaas, and was mixed and mastered at Rainbow Studio in Oslo by Jan Erik Kongshaug.