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Lars Jakob Rudjord (Norway) – Rolig Folk (single/future album track)

There’s always one thing you can be sure of with Norway – its musical practitioners will always come up with a new interpretation or a cocktail of musical styles and often played in a way you have never heard before.

And so it is with Lars Jakob Rudjord, a Norwegian pianist and composer who is from so far south in Norway he could go shopping in Middlesbrough.

Lars says in his press release that on his forthcoming album ‘Kjempe-Jo’ he explores influences from local folk music, blending them with sounds from Nordic jazz and modern classical music. That’s folk, jazz and classical in one album.

‘Rolig Folk’ is the first single from it and is touted as a sampler for the whole. And the album has a story behind it.

It seems that a “mythical” character once lived in the village of Tovdal in the south of Norway. Known by his contemporaries as ‘Kjempe-Jo’ [Jo the Giant], he was a legend in the local community. Often getting into fistfights, he is reputed to have killed a brown bear with his bare hands. (Sounds like he could have been a role model for Hugh Glas).Anyway, Kjempe-Jo’s true name was Jon Olsen, and he was Lars Jakob Rudjord’s great-great-grandfather.

(And Lars himself has a rugged look about him, like he could be playing midfield hatchet man for MIddlesbrough).

Now you see, where else would you read about a bear of a bloke fighting bears in a music publication?

Interestingly, ‘Rolig Folk’ translates as ‘calm people’. I don’t think I’d stay too calm if the giant turned his attention my away after seeing to the bear – Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an English man and all that – but this track is the personification of calm. Built around piano, fiddle, cello and Sámi drums (ceremonial percussion used by the Sámi people), it has a slightly mysterious air about it, more suited perhaps to the northern fjords and the Lofoten islands than the south, and with a hint of Gaelic creeping in as well.

I’m thinking in particular of that weird Norwegian TV drama from a few years ago, I forget its title and even the plot now, in which a big Norwegian actor with a red beard who could have been Odin played each of two twin brothers on his own. He later turned up on the Swedish TV cop series Beck in which he played a Polis officer weirdly ‘loaned’ by the Oslo force because the Stockholm one was short on numbers or something equally bizarre.

This music would have suited that Lofoten drama perfectly, in the scenes where a drone followed the spectacular coast around the villages when nothing much was happening in the story, which was most of the time. (And I note that he has written drama scores before now).

It’s just plain restful. And it features something called a traditional ‘gangar rhythm’ which you’ll easily be able to pick out early on.

‘Kjempe-Jo’ will be released on 19th April.

The other musicians are:

Johanne Flottorp (Hardanger fiddle)

 Katrine Schiøtt (cello)

Jakop Janssønn (drums)

Find him on:





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