Sigbjørn Obstfelder was a 19th-century Norwegian writer and poet, accredited with being one of the earliest examples of modernism in Norwegian literature. Despite producing only a mere handful of works during his short lifespan, he is considered one of the most important figures in Norwegian literature of the late 19th century. Choosing to depart from the traditional “rimtvangen” and the rigid structure of typical Norwegian verse, he created his own free verse, which was marked for its musicality. Of course this creative free-spirited artistic attitude marries itself perfectly with the jazz guitar work of Odd-Arne Jacobsen, a Norwegian jazz and contemporary musician who has performed his music in various countries across the globe. Jacobsen is also the only Norwegian guitarist to have had a solo concert at the Carnegie Hall performing own material.
Odd-Arne Jacobsen has recorded and released a 22 minute plus single track, entitled “Music and poetry with Sigbjørn Obstfelder”. Listen to how Jacobsen’s guitar acts as a wonderful counterpoint to the spoken word poetry, the bass and percussion interludes, and enjoy as does does what few guitarists would dare to do… adding single notes here and there, sprinkling them around in various moods and tones, before breaking into more substantial improvisations.
Proving himself – just like Sigbjørn Obstfelder – to be a true innovator and an artist with a wonderful empathy for any collaborators and listeners alike. And his precision on the instrument is unparalleled, as always.
This is twenty two minutes of ever evolving music that has very subtle elements. It is probably Odd-Arne Jacobsen’s most eclectic intervention with the guitar so far, creating channels of mystery and melodrama. One could either dismiss this for a lack of memorable connected melodies, or praise it for its unique atmosphere and improvised progression.
I would seriously opt for the latter circumstance. A fearless improviser who is as comfortable in purely free settings as he is blowing over changes, Odd-Arne Jacobsen has consistently surrounded himself with creative players and made uncompromising choices throughout his career. This is just another consequential step in that direction.
Jacobsen finds himself in the unique position of juggling a singular playing situation that appeal to different aspects of his wide-ranging musicality. The chemistry between this incredibly versatile, open-minded artist and the other musicians as well as the spoken word reader interludes, border on the telepathic.
“Music and poetry with Sigbjørn Obstfelder” by Odd-Arne Jacobsen is recommended with the guarantee of discovering something pretty unique in the jazz guitar world, and quaintly stunning in the musical word as a whole.
A Note of Interest: As a 25-year-old young man, Odd-Arne Jacobsen was very concerned with Obsefeld’s poetry and thoughts. On 21.05.1972, Odd-Arne Jacobsen and his group joined NRK’s studio in Tromsø. The goal was to interpret Sigurd Obstfelder through experimental jazz and poetry.
Sigurd Obstfelder dreamed of becoming a composer and there is a lot of music in his poetry. The goal of production almost 46 years ago was to use music and innovation by using reader John Ytteborg as a separate instrument.
“The aim of the release was to capture Obstfelder’s turmoil, anxiety and insecurity, which is often present in young men,” says Odd-Arne Jacobsen. “Music and poetry with Sigurd Obstfelder was written and recorded at a time when it was almost illegal to cross the jazz genre with other art forms. Jazz was very conservative and we almost did not relax at jazz clubs with our style. It is therefore very exciting to finally release this recording.”