Andreas Røysum Ensemble: Mysterier

Norwegian clarinettist Andreas Røysum leads a 13-piece band in folk and classical inspired music overlaid with jazz-type solos


As a reminder perhaps, the modern ideal of collectivity has underscored jazz’s essential feeling of freedom. It allows and encourages self-expression within flexible boundaries, and the best of it knows that freedom comes with responsibility, which in music means discipline. Few bands demonstrate these precepts better than the Andreas Røysum Ensemble, from Norway.

For a 13-piece with an interesting personnel including violinist, cellist, and a couple of bassists, Røysum’s band can make a lot of noise. But it’s volume with a purpose, not cluttered and chaotic space-filling. The way the opening track, Øyvinds Odyssé, is scored, with its intro of sustained chromatic density, its jolly waltz time, and the witty manner in which the trombonist attempting to get the journey under way is crowded out by assorted voices, suggests that this odyssey is free-floating with no-one in particular at the tiller. But it’s not so much an orchestral free-for-all as a booze cruise that manages to return soberly to port.

The upbeat clamour of Paoainsnorr – there are no translations from the Norwegian and precious little information at all on the CD packaging – translates to a boisterous omnitude that shushes for a flute episode and ends in a riffing background. “Odyssey”, however, connotes in this context the Nordic saga and by extension a rich folk tradition. Anyone straining after a link between folk convention and jazz collectivity should know that the former is binding and communal. That Røysum connects with it is exemplified by two songs sung beautifully in English by Sofie Tollefsbøl: Barbara Allen and Hares On The Mountain. They are strophic lyrics whose stanza repetitions gather about them not so much free and flexible accompaniment as sonic acts of homage, immediately attendant in the latter, slow to congregate in the first but all there at the end in a mood of tumultuous reflection.

Everyone wanting to get in on these cheerful acts surrounds the trumpet of Erik Kimestad Pederson, the violin of Hans Kjorstad and one of the three flautists on Røysification, and buoys up the flute-dominated and riff-like theme of Kimbe Kimbe. They also contribute as one to the bouncy polyphony of Paoainsnorr. Only in Brugata Boogie does the joyful assembly overwhelm the soloist (an introduction by Røysum on bass clarinet), who gives way and becomes part of it. Willingly, no doubt.

Øyvinds Odyssé; Paoainsnorr; Hares On The Mountain; Kimbe Kimbe; Røysification; Brugata Boogie; Barbara Allen (43.10)
Sofie Tollefsbøl (v); Henriette Eilertsen (f); Signe Emmeluth (as, f); Marthe Lea (ts); Andreas Røysum (cl, bcl, f); Erik Kimestad Pedersen (t); Øyvind Brække (tb, v); Hans P. Kjorstad (vn); Joel Ring (clo); John Andrew Wilhite, Christian Meaas Svendsen (b); Andreas Wildhagen (d, pc), Ivar Myrset Asheim (d, pc, vib). Halden, Norway, 5-7 September 2022.
Motvind Records MOT23CD