Bass player Ellen Brekken is a very versatile performer and she usually holds down the fort with her deep tones in Hedvig Mollestad trio, Tord Gustavsen trio, Falkevik and a lot of other projects within jazz, rock, pop and folk music. In “A tonic for the troops”, she is the General at the front lines and makes her debut as a composer and bandleader. In the music we hear echoes of bassists / songwriters such as Marc Johnson, Ray Brown, Charlie Mingus and Scott La Faro, and Brekken steadily leads us through unison riffs, fast passages, calm landscapes and playful rhythms in a modern mainstream tradition.
Brekken’s musical universe draws inspiration from well-known events in world history as well as from places and people of personal significance. The band name “A tonic for the troops” originates in an old British saying from colonial times in India, where tonic was drunk to keep the malaria mosquito away and it did, according to Churchill, “save more lives than all British doctors”. The tonic, also added to gin to make it less bitter, was truly the best medicine for the troops.
The main ingredient in this musical mixture is pure energy! The quartet facilitates great freedom, where one can also form musical alliances within the band. The musicians give each other both solid backing and they also stand firmly on their own two feet. The drink we are served contains high energy, close interaction, strong melodies, a bouncy accompaniment and terrific individual performances.
Brekken has gathered a troop of very active performers with backgrounds from both the American jazz tradition as well as modern European jazz, who attack the music with both fire and finesse.
Pianist Espen Berg (Silje Nergaard, Espen Berg trio, Hildegunn Øiseth quartet) has consolidated Trondheim’s status on the jazz map both with his own trio and in several collaborations with the Trondheim jazz orchestra. Berg has a surplus in his piano playing that few others in Norway have, and has on several occasions won awards for his solo playing.
Saxophonist Magnus Bakken (Ninja beat, Magnus Bakken quartet, etc.) has, after graduating from the very prestigious Berklee College of Music in the USA, returned to Norway and has established himself as an accomplished and versatile saxophonist. Bakken is just as often heard in close interaction at intimate jazz clubs as he is in major TV productions and with commercial artists.
Drummer Magnus Sefaniassen Eide (Staffan William-Olsson trio, Ìsa, Frode Kjekstad trio) eats grooves for breakfast and is one of the most hard-working young jazz musicians today. He masters both mainstream jazz and straight pop with the greatest self-assurance and has an unshakeable beat as well as a delicate touch.