Hymn For A Hungry Nation (Clean Feed)

Friends & Neighbors

Released November 20, 2014

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review






The name of this band says it all. Friends and Neighbors was the title of a fundamental album by Ornette Coleman dating from 1970, and the music played by these Norwegian improvisers has as reference and starting point the “new thing” of the Sixties. This music is informed by the times when freedom of expression replaced improvisation in chords, as the liner notes written by Joachim Kuhn state. But “Hymn for a Hungry Nation” isn’t simply a nostalgic statement: this appropriation of the free jazz legacy comes with a melodic concept with the mark of our present times. Besides Ornette, you can also recognize the influences of Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and John Carter, but heard by five European musicians very much in tune with the 21st century moods and processes. If you know them as members of collectives like Team Hegdal, Frode Gjerstad Trio, Cortex and All Included you’re already aware of what they’re capable of, and if you don’t, here’s the opportunity…

Track Listing:

1. Hymn for a Hungry Nation (Tollef Østvang) 05:03

2. Bølehøgda (André Roligheten) 04:26

3. John’s Abbey (Tollef Østvang) 05:25

4. Give Me Jarrison (André Roligheten) 05:52

5. Skremmerud (André Roligheten) 04:04

6. Ceramic Inside (Jon Rune Strøm) 05:22

7. Vocals on the Run (Tollef Østvang) 06:38

8. Heading South (Tollef Østvang) 05:43


André Roligheten: tenor saxophone and clarinets

Thomas Johansson: trumpet

Oscar Grönberg: piano

Jon Rune Strøm: double bass

Tollef Østvang: drums

Recorded November 17, 2012, at Svenska Grammofonstudion, Gothenburg, Sweden, by György Barocsai and April 28, 2013, at Øra Studio, Trondheim, Norway, by Jo Ranheim

Producer: Friends & Neighbors

Executive-Producer: Pedro Costa

Mastering and Mixing: Morten Stendahl

Artwork: Travassos


Friends & Neighbors, the young neo-free-jazz band from Norway, takes its name from Ornette Coleman’s 1970 album of the same name. The spirit behind the phrase suits the quintet beautifully, and in terms of both historical stylistic precedent and a certain, strong and palpable ensemble identity—a friendly, neighborly and collective musical persona. That group-think, along with bold individualism of the parties involved, comes through loud and clear, with blissful wisps of heartwarming anarchy on Hymn For A Hungry Nation. With its two-horn frontline (reedist André Roligheten and trumpeter Thomas Johansson) and loose-then-tight bass and drum backline (Jon Rune Strøm and Tollef Østvang, respectively), the core setting relates to the early Coleman quartet, but with the spare and tasteful folding-in of piano courtesy of Oscar Grönberg’s feverish way at the keyboard. There are friendly ghosts and echoes in this music, particularly of a Coleman-esque sort, and they are evident in the angular yet folkish tilt of “John’s Abbey,” for instance, or the flowing, vocallike cadence of “Vocals On The Run,” with sensuously murmuring drum rumble below. “Skremmerud” splits the difference, attitudinally, between its neurotic, skittering smears and fragmentary melancholia. Ending on a reflective grace note, contrasting the hale blast of the opening title track, the group eases into the ether with the almost-waltz “Heading South.” With this potent new album, Friends & Neighbors underscores the implicit point that the language it springs out of, with tentacles going back to Ornette’s revolutionary sound, is alive and thriving. In this case, a spirited quintet of Norwegian musicians have made it their own. Call it a neo-“New Thing” sensation.

Josef Woodard (DownBeat)