Paal Nilssen-Love CIRCUS

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Juliana Venter – vocals
Thomas Johansson – trumpet
Signe Emmeluth – alto saxophone
Oddrun Lilja Jonssdottir – electric guitar
Kalle Moberg – accordion
Christian Meaas Svendsen –  double bass & bass guitar
Paal Nilssen-Love – drums & percussion

photo by Petra Cvelbar

Paal Nilssen-Love CIRCUS emerged as a direct result of the travel restrictions caused by the corona pandemic. The Oslo World Music Festival asked Nilssen-Love to put together a new band of musicians based in Norway. He came up with players from different camps, experienced in various styles: ethnic, classical, contemporary, jazz, free jazz, noise, pop etc.

The seven unique voices were gathered around common musical ideas and ways of thinking and a shared understanding of musical freedom. Each musician with a responsibility for the musical development, each with a mission to surprise each other and the audience as well.

Nilssen-Love has composed the music but the songs are more like maps with freedom for each musician to choose direction and intensity. 

Nilssen-Love draws on inspiration from tours and studies over the past years in Ethiopia and Brazil, in addition to his long-standing fascination for music from Mali and Senegal. But all is rooted in a broad defined improvised music. This makes Circus a highly unpredictable band – exciting, intense, exhilarating, touching on different feelings which can be sad as well as fun – indeed, watching them live is like going to the circus!

The band’s premiere made a huge impression on audience and press alike and was by many considered the highlight of the festival. 

To quote some writers (bear in mind that this was during COVID19-restrictions with a limited seated audience):

Jungle fever in the circus: The cheering lifted the roof during this concert and it’s a miracle that we didn´t all descend to civil disobedience, kicked down the tables and started dancing. (Audun Vinger, Jazz i Norge)

Paal Nilssen-Love Circus gives us a dance party, and it hurts to stay seated with music like this. Riffs from Ethio-jazz and Brazilian rhythms float in a wild, freely improvised nude bath!

(Torkjell Hovland,

A studio recording is to be released in the fall of 2022. Listen here!

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