Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit

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photo by Peter Gannushkin

Thomas Johansson (NO) – trumpet; Mats Äleklint (SE) – trombone; Kristoffer Alberts (NO) – tenor and alto saxophone; Julie Kjær (DK) – alto saxophone and flute; Klaus Holm (NO) –  Bb clarinet, alto and baritone saxophone; Per Åke Holmlander (SE) – tuba; Kalle Moberg (NO) – accordion; Ketil Gutvik (NO) –  electric guitar; Tommi Keranen (FIN) – electronics; Jon Rune Strøm (NO) –  double and electric bass; Christian Meaas Svendsen (NO) –  double and electric bass; Andreas Wildhagen (NO) –  drums & percussion; Paal Nilssen-Love (NO) –  drums & percussion; Celio DeCarvalho (BR) – percussion; Christian Brynildsen Obermayer (NO) –sound

Paal Nilssen-Love is one of the hardest working and most prolific musicians there is. Known from bands like The Thing, Ballister, Hairy Bones, Chicago Tentet and Original Silence, as well as collaborations with musicians like Arto Lindsay, Otomo Yoshihide, Akira Sakata, Ken Vandermark, Jim O’Rourke, Peter Brötzmann, Thurston Moore and many others, and with an impressive live activity. In 2013 he decided it was time to start his own big band ensemble, and Large Unit came to life. Consisting of mostly younger Norwegian musicians, Large Unit manifests as an intense powerhouse force on stage, but also veers into more subtle and textural passages. The group is also fortunate to include members from the other Nordic countries; Finland, Sweden and Denmark. In other words: Nordic music at it’s best!

Large Unit burst into life at Molde Jazzfestival July 2013 and has since then toured Europe, Ethiopia, Brazil, Japan and USA. 

After the two-track EP “First Blow” in 2013, they released the massive, more than two hour long debut album “Erta Ale” in 2014 – a format size fit for the band. They expanded to 14 members (including two Brazilian percussionists) in August 2015 and recorded live and in studio which resulted in the CD named “ANA”. The album combines Brazilian rhythms, free blowing and big band riffing in a highly successful way. Nilssen-Love had a new book of tunes for their European tour of 2015 and these were later recorded and appear on the studio album titled “Fluku”. They also expanded to include 20 music students from Oslo in connection with contemporary music organisation Ny Musikk’s festival Only Connect in Oslo. This concert, consisting of the commissioned piece “More Fun, Please!” was released in the spring of 2018.

All Large Unit’s compositions are written by Nilssen-Love, but the musicians are always given great freedom to contribute their own flavors to the music. The band is stripped down to single players, duos etc., and at times split into several groups. The power of the whole group is of course a treat in itself when in full blast. 

Nilssen-Love has taken inspiration from his years in groups like Peter Brötzmann Chicago tentet, Ken Vandermark ́s Territory band and FrodeGjerstad ́s Circulasione Totale Orchestra. Traces from this experience are evident, but still with the aim to create a new group with a sound of it’s own.

At Molde jazzfest 2018 Large Unit was extended to 21 persons, adding musicians from Brazil and from the Ethiopian music/dance band Fendika, and throwing Dutch guitarist Terrie Ex in the mix as well. Large Unit EthioBraz nowadays consists of all Large Unit musicians plusMelaku Belay (ET) – dance; Zinash Tsegaye (ET) – dance; Nardos Tesfaye (ET) – vocals; Habetamu Yeshambel (ET) – masingo (stringinstrument); Mesay Abebaye (ET) – kobero (drums); Sentayehu Tadasse (ET) – krahr (stringinstrument); Robel Solomon (ET) – bass, Terrie Ex (NL) guitar

Ethiobraz is a colorful cross-pollination, an exuberant tribute to musical openness, positive energy and life. Twenty-one artists from three continents, together account for an exciting, emotionally intense trip (Guy Peters)

Watch EthioBraz


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