Håkon Kornstad is one of a handful Norwegian jazz artists who have been listed in the US jazz magazine Downbeat's "Critics Poll". He had performed with both Pat Metheny and Joshua Redman, and was a central figure in Bugge Wesseltoft's "New Conception of Jazz". In 2009 he had a life-changing experience in New York, when he heard Cavalleria Rusticana at the Met. A couple of weeks later he finds himself in the studio of a retired soprano on the Upper West Side, doing his first ever vocal exercises. It transpires that he is a tenor with a fine operatic voice that needs training. Six years later, he has a master's degree from the Norwegian Opera Academy, and has several roles taking him well into 2016.
His new ensemble sees him mixing his newfound tenor voice with his unique tenor saxophone playing. Kornstad sings in Italian, French and German, with a haunting, light Scandinavian tenor voice, bringing back memories of the old world. And then he plays the saxophone, with his distinct warm sound.
Sigbjørn Apeland's harmonium sounds like a blend between strings and wind instruments, and drummer Øyvind Skarbø plays nuanced percussion on arias that were never intended for drums. Harpsichordist Lars Henrik Johansen fits in naturally with his baroque instrument on romantic pieces, while double bassist Per Zanussi also plays the singing saw.
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