Stian Omenås on 1982´s A/B project
As the title of the trio 1982s fourth album, A/B, indicates, it is divided into two parts. The album is built up with the classic LP structure of an A side and a B side, with a long piece, 18:16 minutes, filling the entire A side. This piece clearly stands out as the most distinctive in 1982’s discography up to now. Taking his point of departure in improvisations recorded by the trio, trumpeter and composer Stian Omenås has “expanded on” the idiom and has composed and arranged music for a wind sextet that has been layered on top of the original improvisation.
– Tell me about the A/B project you did with 1982. How did it come together?
Øyvind Skarbø is a creative man indeed, with many good and crazy ideas. I like that about him. He is unafraid, and has the ability to push through and actually fulfil his ideas. We have known each other since 1994, where we as youngsters played in the same big band. Both of us come from from the same area “Sunnmøre”, in Western Norway.
When Øyvind got this idea about adding a composition onto an improvisation, he asked me if I would like to be the composer. I liked the idea, because it was so original. Usually, one improvises based on a composition. However, this was to be reverse. And why not? But there were many challenges. First, to find sampled music from 1982, which would do for this setting – not the hardest part since it is a fantastic trio, but still.. Then, I had a hard time putting togheter different parts to an imagined suite, so that the improvisation itself would open up for ideas og possibilities about a composition on top of it. Finally, I made some composition sketches, and presented this to Øyvind in due time before recording. We had a little discussion and made a few changes before we sent the score off to the musicians. We used three days, one for each task: Rehearsing, recording and mixing. Øyvind has been a producer all the way, but has at the same time given me a large amount of artistic freedom concerning the composition and it´s main ideas.
Having known and worked with Øyvind for such a long time. Tell me: what is you favorite Øyvind Skarbø story?
Oh, there are lots of them! But believe it or not – most of them I have from sharing the same stage and playing together with him. This is where Øyvind is unique, with his playful and informal way of communicating music. It is serious and stand-up at the same time. Last year, we had a series of children´s concerts in Western Norway, together with drummer Øyvind Hegg Lunde. At the end of the concert, Øyvind disappears from stage and is gone for a while. When everybody thinks the concert is over, Øyvind enters the stage again dressed with an apron, a janitor-shirt and a mop – and starts cleaning the floor and simultaneously telling that the show is over, and the cinema is starting soon. I thing that I and Hegg Lunde was as surprised as the audience, if not even more surprised. It is a good and important quality with a co-musician; to dare to surprise and challenge.
Your arrangement was recorded during a session in the legendary Rainbow Studio in Oslo. Please tell me about the session.
It was my first meeting with Rainbow and Jan Erik Kongshaug. As I am a huge ECM fan, that was really exciting. As I had foreseen, we could start playing rather quickly, as sound and technological details was as it should be after a short amount of time. Everyone had the 1982-recording in their earplug, and we thoroughly and chronologically worked ourselves through the different parts of the Suite. I conducted, and I think the timing between Fredrik Ljungkvist´s fine improvisation in part 1, the sound underneath, and the 1982-record was interesting and challenging. But, the musicians were very competent and flexible, everyone with a foot both in modern score-based music and improvised music – except for Mattias Wallin on althorn, who is a very good “amateur” from the Brass Band environment in Oslo. Full time professional althorn players do not exist. But it is a fantastic instrument with a nice and rich sound, and we really wanted it part of this project. And as you can hear on the album, Mattias did a great job.
In the studio, Øyvind was a fly on the wall, and made comments were he felt it necessary. During mixing, he played a crucial role, as the final product would be his.
What music, figures and events has shaped you as a musician, composer and arranger:
Fortunatly, today I am curious about most music. I once told in an interview: “There is no bad genres, only not so good musicians.” It still stands. But, as many other jazz trumpet players, I have taken the correct path from Chet Baker to Miles Davis and Don Cherry. Miles is the number one favourite regardless of time and place. During my studies at the Jazz Conservatory in Trondheim, I eventually started to be interested in modern classical music, as Stravinskij, Messiaen, Ligeti and later Morton Feldman. These composers have inspired me as I today am in search of my own voice as a composer. In the pop genre, Tom Waits and Björk are my favourites. But both as a composer and a musician, my fascination for the balance between tonal and atonal music is obvious. In Norway, Christian Wallumrød is a great role model.
What are you doing currently?
I am listening through recordings that I did with my trio Parallax and Hong Kong New Music Ensemble. I wrote a piece for these ensembles which was recorded in Hong Kong in May 2013. Perhaps there will be an album in due time?
Omenås Klangkammer is recording a new album in two weeks. Then I will have the joy of working togheter with great musicians as Rob Waring (vib), Mats Eilertsen (db) and Erik Nylander (dr). I have made lots of new music which we are working on. This album will be a contuinuing from “Klangkammer 1”, that was launched on NORCD in 2012.
My next grandious composition project is a mini opera. There are some loose threads here at the moment, but stay tuned for more information. Do pay my homepage a visit.
Nice talking to you!