Since 1981 Knut Værnes has been playing, touring and recording with, among others, Cutting Edge, Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Petter Molvær and Jan Garbarek, while additionally releasing 10 solo albums and running the record company Curling Legs. This autumn marks the release of a brand-new album from the Knut Værnes Group, which includes none other than Omar Hakim, and this is the project he will be presenting at the Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria at this year’s OJF.
Group members are Kasper Værnes, Jørn Øien, Frode Berg and the above-mentioned Omar Hakim. Kasper Værnes (yes, he’s Knut’s son) has, despite being only 28, already made a name for himself as a jazz musician playing festival gigs in Norway and abroad, as well as through his collaborations with Espen Rud, Paal Nilsen Love, Dr. Kay, Vidar Busk and others. Jørn Øienhar has been one of the most active pianists/keyboard players on the Norwegian jazz scene for 25 years, while Frode Bergsom, now permanent bassist for the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, has played with the Helge Lien Trio, Petter Wettre, Donna Summer and others.
Many will be acquainted with the work of Omar Hakim, who is also playing at the festival the night before with his OZ Experience. He has played drums for Miles Davis and was a permanent member of Weather Report. Hakim is much in demand as a studio drummer and has recorded with artists such as Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mick Jagger, Dire Straits, David Bowie and Daft Punk. His merits are many and Værnes himself says that Hakim, with his fantastic groove, musicality and technique, is in a class of his own.
The music we’ll be hearing continues in the direction of his last album: melodic, electric jazz-rock, influenced by bands such as Weather Report, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, and not least by Knut Værnes’ own back catalogue over a versatile career spanning more than 35 years.