Atomic tours the US

Hailed Norwegian jazz collective Atomic have embarked on an extensive US tour this week.


With an itinerary that includes stopovers at 14 locations, Atomic are now in the midst of their most extensive US tour ever. In support of the collective’s second album, “Boom, Boom” the hailed Norwegian/Swedish quintet is to play a number of dates on central venues. A unique chance to experience one of Scandinavian improvised music’s strongest live acts.

Atomic’s second album, “Boom, Boom” (Jazzland Acoustic, 2003) followed up on its predecessor, “Feet Music”, with intense playing, challenging compositions and an abundance of raw energy. Featuring own compositions as well as Hindemith’s Praeludium and Radiohead’s Pyramid Song, “Boom, Boom” stands out as one of 2003’s strongest Norwegian jazz releases. Says central sax player Ken Vandermark on the collective’s outing: “To my ears everything the band plays sounds as if it belongs in the jazz milieu (even their fantastic reinterpretation of Radiohead’s “The Pyramid Song” makes sense in this context), yet somehow none of it sounds dated, Atomic isn’t playing someone else’s music form another place and time, this I work that is personal and thoroughly creative in the NOW. Their music is the sound of creative risks being made in real time, and you can’t do this if you’re obsessed with re-creating and imitating the music of the past.”

Atomic's debut album "Feet Music" (Jazzland Acoustic 2002) presented a vital and central instalment of exciting and creative new jazz from Bugge Weseltoft's adventurous Oslo based Jazzland label. "Debut of the year!" John Fordham in The Guardian (UK) described the music and the musicians as "One of the most exhilarating new groups on the European circuit!" One of the key bands of the 'new wave' of Scandinavian jazz currently attracting much press attention, Atomic brings together five important young musicians from the adventurous jazz underground of Sweden and Norway. Formed in spring 1999, they quickly forged a strong group identity without sacrificing individual freedom of expression. Combining the powerful, cutting edge Oslo rhythm section of Håvard Wiik on piano, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums - a combination that received rave notices as the rhythm team of the Coltrane-influenced 'cult' group Element - with the Stockholm front-line of trumpeter Magnus Broo and saxophonist Fredrik Ljungkvist, this group are one of the freshest acoustic ensembles to have emerged in the new millennium.

Taking the album title from a composition by Ornette Coleman, Haker Flaten says, 'The music is groovy, in a way it needs people, it's searching for human contact, it's not introverted music! We see the music for outgoing people and hopefully they see it that way too.' Atomic grew out of the reaction against the so-called 'mountain jazz' (or ECM school) begun 10 years ago by the vigorous, high energy Coltrane inspired group Element. 'Our tone is much more back to basics, in a way, the music is right to the point,' explains Haker Flaten.

Playing their own compositions that mix a distinctive approach to 'free' playing with grooves and modes, their interplay and ability to take their music in new and interesting directions has resulted in musical collaborations with a variety of leading contemporary jazz musicians including Chris Potter from the USA, Iain Ballamy from the UK, the Fin Jukka Perko and the Swede Per "Texas" Johansson.

"Feet Music's" explosive rhythmic energy, blending deftly written ensemble passages with sizzling group interplay and full blooded solos represent some of the most startlingly fresh yet highly absorbing acoustic jazz on the scene today. While they make no secret of their love for several leading American jazz musicians such as Archie Shepp, Charles Mingus, George Russell and Keith Jarrett, the music of these masters is mixed with an equal love of European free jazz from the Sixties. Unlike many young American jazz musicians who appear stifled by the so-called 'jazz tradition', Atomic regard the American and European jazz traditions as an inspiration rather than a restriction, a jumping off point to realise their own direction and place in the music.

These diverse elements have inspired a musical style that is new, fresh and original, winning audiences over wherever they play. 'We learn from the American and European scene, then we go our own way,' says Haker Flaten. Following their performance at the Oslo Jazz Festival in August 2000, Roald Helgheim of "Dagsavisen" said, 'At the end of a long jazz festival, listening became a duty rather than a pleasure. Then to everyone's surprise the Swedish-Norwegian group Atomic came on and made the last evening the best of the festival.'

No strangers to the touring circuit, Atomic were on the road almost as soon as they were formed back in 1999 shaping and refining their music. They have toured Europe and Scandinavia several times, including club and festival concerts at Blå in Oslo, the Nattjazz Festival, the Oslo Jazz Festival and the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.

Magnus Broo (trumpet, Stockholm). Studied at the University of North Texas from 1984 - 1990. He leads his own quartet and has released two CD's, "Sudden Joy" (1999) and "Levittion" (2001). He has played with several important Swedish jazz ensembles including the Fredrik Noren band, The Stockholm Jazz Orchestra and Fire House. He has appeared at festivals in Indonesia; Canada, Finland; the Vancouver Jazz Festival, the Stockholm Jazz Festival, Kongsberg Jazz Festival, Poori Jazz among others.

Fredrik Ljungkvist (saxophones, Stockholm). Studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm from 1989 - 1993 and has performed with some of the leading bands in Stockholm including the Fredrik Noren Band, Lina Nyberg group and the Per "Texas" Johansson band. Ljungkvist has also played with musicians as diverse as Anders Jormin, Mats Gustafsson, John Taylor, Marc Ducret and Raymond Stridh among others. In 1993 he formed his own quartet, releasing two CDs, "Falling Papers" (1995) and "Sonic Space" (1997). He has appeared in festivals in Scandinavia, Canada, South Africa, Russia, USA, Great Britain and Morocco. In May 2001, he received the "Jazz Kannan" as 'Musician of the Year' from the Swedish Jazz Society. In September 2000 he composed a piece for the Pipeline project, a collaboration between 16 Swedish and American musicians, which was performed in Chicago and Sweden. In 2001 Ljungkvist went to Chicago to play with Ken Vandermark's Territory Band. Ljungkvist has participated on nearly 30 jazz-albums.

Håvard Wiik (piano, Oslo). Studied at the Trondheim Music Conservatory from 1994-1996. Leads his own trio and performs with leading Norwegian artists such as Arild Andersen, Karin Krog, Petter Wettre and Element among others. He has also performed with international artists as Chris Potter, Mark Turner and Iain Ballamy. He is a regular face at all the important Norwegian jazz festivals. Last year saw Wiik releasing his solo debut album, “Postures” (Jazzland Acoustic) with his acclaimed trio.

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass, Oslo). Studied jazz music at the Trondheim Music Conservatory 1992-1995. One of the most active and sought after bass players in Norway, he plays both free and more traditional jazz styles. Since 1996 he has been a member of Bugge Wesseltoft's New Conception of Jazz touring France, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Turkey, Canada. He has also appeared in jazz festivals such as Montreux, North Sea, Nice, Montreal, Copenhagen, London and Berlin among others. He has performed several in important Scandinavian groups such as The Source, Element, Petter Wettre Trio, Close Erase, the Per 'Texas' Johansson band and with international artists such as Ken Vandermark, Dave Liebman, Mats Gustafsson, Chris Potter, Mark Turner and Iain Ballamy. He has participated on more than 30 albums.

Paal Nilssen Love (drums, Oslo). Attended the jazz department at Sund College 1993 - l994 before studying at the jazz department at the Trondheim Music Conservatory during fall of 1994. In 1990 he started to play with trumpeter Didrik Ingvaldsen's Pocket Corner and saxophonist Frode Gjerstad's trio and Cirulasione Orchestra. In 1993 he joined the cult Norwegian group Element. Since he moved to Oslo in 1996, he has been in constant demand throughout the country and performs annually at most of the Norwegian jazz festivals. He regularly performs with Swedish musicians including pianist Sten Sandell, and saxophonists Per "Texas" Johansson and Mats Gustafsson. Together with Ingebrigt Flaten, he has established contacts in Chicago with saxophonist Ken Vandermark and trombonist Jeb Bishop. He has appeared in US, Italy, Austria, Canada, England and Scotland. The spring of 2001 saw his CD "Sticks & Stones" released to critical acclaim. During the fall of 2001 the in-demand drummer was touring with The Thing with Joe McPhee, a duo with John Butcher, the Håkon Kornstad trio, the Frode Gjerstad trio with Peter Brøtzmann, School Days, the Sten S andell trio, Atomic, LO-KO (duo with Håkon Kornstad) and Zanussi. Nilssen Love is also one of two recipients of the prestigious Norwegian Jazz Launch Europe 2004-2006 promotion programme initiated by Rikskonsertene, West Norway Jazz Centre and Norwegian Jazz Forum.

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