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Peter Knudsen Eight

Sagas Of The Present

Cam Jazz Presents CAMJ 3314-5

Item: full_album_8052405140760_CD

Artists :
Emil Strandberg ( Trumpet, Flugelhorn )
Andreas Gidlund ( Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute )
Gustav Rådström ( Saxophone, Clarinet )
Thomas Backman ( Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute )
Lisa Bodelius ( Trombone )
Peter Knudsen ( Piano )
Pär-Ola Landin ( Double Bass )
Sebastian Voegler ( Drums )
Anders Johansson ( Glockenspiel )
Release date
Oct 23, 2012

"According to Gianni Rodari, famous Italian author of children’s literature, “the creative process is innate to human nature and, thus, to everything entailing the joy of expressing oneself and letting one’s imagination roam and be grasped by one and all”. The young pianist and composer, Peter Knudsen, must have understood this well, devoting himself to creativity, invention, the pleasure of discovery and revival. In fact, one rarely finds such an articulated, proven play on throw-backs, connections and interceptions as in the music the Swede (not to be confused with the former Danish footballer of the same name, who also played on the Italian Bari team) has put together for this brand new octet. Peter, born in Östersund, in northern Sweden, but living in Stockholm for some time, studied quite a bit, but simultaneously listened with intent curiosity.  For his debut in the CAM JAZZ Presents “youth series”, he set up an octet with a wind section that alternates and multiplies the instruments being used: from saxophones to clarinets and flutes, with his own playing of the piano in a style influenced by the greats (from Bill Evans to Brad Mehldau), but he does not remove the spotlight from what is most interesting: the building up and architecture of the sound, the frantic search for new spaces for expression, which is also the meaning of life for many young musicians. New spaces, other places, space to… An imperative that Knudsen pursues reaches and overcomes". (F. Scoppio)

Anders Johansson: glockenspiel on track 6.

All original compositions.

Recorded in Gothenburg, Sweden on 3, 4 October 2011 at Svenka Grammofonstudion Recording engineer Henrik Alsér

Liner notes by Federico Scoppio


Peter Knudsen Eight Sagas Of The Present

With his project for the Italian CamJazz label’s emerging artist showcase, young Swedish pianist Peter Knudsen moves into some savvy, tastefully venturesome and warming turf. Beyond the tapestry of the sound and compositional intelligence, he presents a fine example of resourceful arrangement-oriented thinking and what can be done in the format of an octet. The seven alluring pieces making up Sagas Of The Present trigger echoes of artists from the past and present, including Gil Evans, Bill Evans, Ravel and Maria Schneider.
Knudsen works well in metric areas divisible by three, from the serpentine luster of the opening “Kalejdoskop” to the tender closer “Wedding Waltz”. Angst and knotty energies sneak into the restless spirit of “Nuked Present”, but more often, impressionistic elements of harmonic color and movement figure into the writing, often adhering to a gently melancholic, medium heat emotionality. But Knudsen also folds in elements of contrasting dissonance and cross-linear traffic among the parts to juice up the musical intrigue. Where most of the pieces err on the side of relative compactness, the leader ventures into a mini-suite form on the narrative-like 11-minute “The Emperor Of Portugallia”, hinting at more ambitious efforts.

10/5/2013DownbeatJosef Woodard
Peter Knudsen Eight: Sagas Of The Present

The members of the Peter Knudsen Eight, a dynamic and vibrant group of musicians led by Swedish pianist, composer and bandleader Peter Knudsen, have taken a bold step towards musical maturity with their first large ensemble recording, Sagas Of The Present. Themes as diverse as folk tales, rugged landscapes and the rich musical heritage of the Nordic region are all explored in the seven original compositions on this enjoyable recording.
Knudsen has been exploring the ever-decreasing space between jazz and classical music for some years with his trio and has composed and performed arrangements of both Debussy and Ravel. The trio's well-received Impressions-A Tribute to Debussy and Ravel (Found You Recordings, 2008) is the best example of this. For Sagas Of The Present, Knudsen not only draws on his classical music background but also enlists the contributions of some noteworthy figures in contemporary Swedish jazz, such as versatile trumpeter/flugelhornist Emil Strandberg, who brings with him a wide knowledge of diverse styles of music to the ensemble. The rest of the horn section features gifted saxophonists, clarinettists and flautists such as Andreas Gidlund (who leads his own quartet and, at one time, played alongside clarinetist Putte Wickman), Thomas Backman (also member of Swedish ensemble Paavo) and rising star Lisa Bodelius (recipient of the 2011 Faschings Vänner scholarship).
The album opens with the jaunty and spring-like "Kaleidoscope"— pleasant, yet rarely providing the mix of colors its title might suggest. The rhythms are fairly straightforward and the whole piece feels rather timid. An amiable clarinet lead brings to mind a family gathering or a theatrical setting rather than the explosive, youthful opening track of a debut recording. In contrast, the fascinating "The Emperor of Portugallia" is inspired by the novel of the same name by Nobel Laureate Selma Lagerlöf, published in 1914 and described as the "Swedish King Lear." It tells the story of a lonely farmer that slips into an imaginary world in which his estranged daughter has become a noble empress and he a great emperor. Weighing in at nearly 11 minutes, the powerful and soaring saxophones, combined with deliberate piano/bass parts, create a captivating musical interpretation of the father's ultimately sad story.
Sandwiched between the plodding and somewhat complex "Saga of the Gingerbread Castle" and "Aurora Borealis" comes "Nuked Present." Something of a highlight of the recording, "Nuked Present" is the first time the band members really sound like part of a jazz group and not a classical or library music ensemble. The horns are grouped into powerful pillars of sound and the rhythm section pulls everyone along nicely. Skillful and well-timed solos drop in and out of the harmony quite effortlessly and the piece comes together to form an extremely enjoyable piece of music.
Not easy listening and certainly not for dancing, Sagas Of The Present is an ambitious album for imaginative listeners.

17/11/ James Pearse
Peter Knudsen Eight - Sagas of the present

När jag senast lyssnade på den gode pianisten Peter Knudsen knådade han intelligent samman klassisk fransk impressionism och nordisk pianolyrik. På den här internationella utgåvan på CamJazz spelar Knudsen och en vidsynt oktett nyskriven musik, bildrik och flerskiktad som ett borrprov i Chicxulubkratern. Det är en lustfylld tillställning där inte minst blåsarna Emil Strandberg, Andreas Gidlund, Lisa Bodelius, Thomas Backman och Gustav Rådström skapar storverk under Knudsens ledning, solistiskt men framförallt i ett varmt och färgrikt ensemblespel. Starta förslagsvis med Winter walk och Nuked Present.

14/11/2012gp.seUlf Johanson
Uttrycksfullt och vackert med Peter Knudsens oktett

Östersundsfödde pianisten Peter Knudsen tar allt större plats på den musikaliska scenen. Både som den utomordentligt fine pianist han är, men också som kompositör och arrangör. I mån av tid är han dessutom verksam som pedagog vid Musikhögskolan i Örebro.
Tidigare har vi bland annat hört honom i lågmäld triosättning med finstämda arrangemang av Ravels och Debussys musik och i ett Peterson-Berger-program tillsammans med Joakim Milder.
Nu är han aktuell med en ny skiva med titeln Sagas of the Present, som får en internationell lansering genom CAM Jazz. Det lär vara ett tioårigt projekt, som Peter Knudsen nu går i land med.
Sju egna kompositioner har han samlat, i utsökta arrangemang för en handplockad oktett unga svenska musiker med självklar förankring i jazzmusiken, och med breda musikaliska erfarenheter.
Det är en narrativ, mycket uttrycksfull musik som Knudsen skrivit, delvis baserad på litterärt underlag, fritt tolkat, och draperat i snitsiga arrangemang för fem blåsare och komptrio.
Inledande Kalejdoskop är en lätt och luftigt skön komposition, The Emperor of Potugallia ett mer intrikat stycke musik med starka känslouttryck, allt från det stillsamt sorgsna till det brutala, ungefär som den litterära förlagan kan tolkas och upplevas. Visst finns det reminiscenser från den klassiska musik som Peter Knudsen tidigare tolkat även i hans egna verk som till exempel Saga of the Gingerbread Castle, men i ett stycke som Aurora Borealis är det snarare ett drag av nordisk folkton som framträder. Det är ett vemodigt, oändligt vackert stycke musik, faktiskt lite Lasse Gullin-besläktat.
Den handplockade oktett av yngre svenska musiker som Peter Knudsen satt samman för detta musikaliska projekt är ytterligt kompetent och lyckas alla i både ensemblespel och excellenta solon förmedla Peter Knudsens både uttrycksfulla och vackra musik.

30/10/2012ltz.seLo Rindberg