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The Circulasione Totale Orchestra started in 1984 and the idea was to play with local musicians so I could try out compositions and also be a place for younger musicians to meet and to try to improvise. At that time I was playing with Johnny Mbizo Dyani and John Stevens in the group”DETAIL” and I felt it was important to bring on some of the things I learned from playing with them, to younger musicians.
The name of the band indicates that people will come and go and it was created ot of a night with some red wine and some quasi Italian language-ideas. A bit stupid, but at the same time a name which most people could understand the meaning of.
Over the years, many musicians have passed through – I think we have had 11 bassplayers….. We had two bassists most of the time and sometimes also 2 drummers banging along!. The band would be around 10 people and and in 1989 we played at the Molde Jazz festival with 13 people: 3 bassists, 2 drummers, percussion, guitar, keyboards, three horns, a DJ and a rapper. We used some of my songs and freely improvised of the rest. So the DJ and rapper who did a fantastic free-style rapping. People went crazy, dancing on the tables etc. This version of the band was called CTO “Dancemble”. Unfortunately, I thought it was going to be a disaster, because the rehearsals were horrible, that I said no to the state radio to record the concert…..It would have been a very early example of mixing free music and rapping.
We have made 5 CDs with various versions of the band:
- ACCENT, (Stevens, Kleive etc. 10 musicians) Odin, Oslo-89
- ENTEN ELLER, Circulasione Totale, Stavanger-93
- Recycling Grieg. Circulasione Totale.Stavanger -96
- Borealis, Cadence, USA, -98
- Open Port (12 piece international band) ) Circ. Totale, Stavanger -08
- Bandwith. 3-CD box. Rune Gramofon, Oslo -09
- PhilaOslo 2-CD. Circ. Totale, Stavanger -11
- Music sample
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The current version of the band includes some of my musical friends from over the years
The line-up is:
- Louis Moholo-Moholo, drums , South-Africa
- Morten J. Olsen electronics, drums , N
- Anders Hana el.guitar , N
- Frode Gjerstad sax,clarinets , N
- Nick Stephens acoustic bass, UK
- Paal Nilssen-Love drums , N
- Ingebrigt H. Flaten acoustic bass , N
- Børre Mølstad tuba , N
- Sabir Mateen, sax and clarinets, USA
- Kevin Norton vibraphone , USA
- Bobby Bradford, cornet , USA
- Lasse Marhaug electronics, N
- John Hegre, soundman, N
It is an acoustic-electric band. Which to me, means that there will be many influnces put together: some well known acoustic sounds and some sounds very far from the acoustic area. I have in the past mostly worked from an acoustic platform, but I am also looking for other musical avenues to explore and have worked with electronics.
In the CTO I would very much like all these influences to come together as one. And I need musicians who would bring their own identity to the table so we can cook a great meal together.
This is a celebration of the free improvised music.
Stavanger, my home town, is European cultural capital in 2008 along with Liverpool.
Stavanger 2008 have given me a n opportunity to present a band at the MaiJazz festival in May 2008.
After playing the MaiJazz festival, we flew to the Moers Festival in Germany the following day and played for a big audince that received us really well.
In July, we played at the Molde Festival and we did the Tampere Jazz Meeting in November.
In 2009 we will play:
Oslo, Nasjonal Jazzscene, April 29th, St. Johann, Austria, April 30th, Wien, Porgy & Bess, May 1st, the Ulrichsberg festival in Austria May 2nd. Zurich, Taktlos, May 3rd
Open Port. A review in All About Jazz. By Glenn Astarita
Circulasione Totale Orchestra This largely high-impact orchestra launched in 1984 by Norwegian multi-reedman Frode Gjerstad is more of a collective, where young and veteran jazz-based improvisers pass through to abet the unit’s continual evolution. It’s an acoustic-electric format that might be analogous to a histogram amidst the abundance of pointy spikes and steady-state flows. It’s an international gala indeed, featuring vibraphonist Kevin Norton, cornetist Bobby Bradford and drummers Paal Nilssen-Love and Louis Moholo, who augment the thirteen-piece gathering of like-minded improvisers. Here, Morten J. Olsen and Lasse Marhaug provide the existential overtones via electronics, while Olsen also employs an arsenal of percussion instruments to align and complement the drummers’ asymmetrical pulses. The orchestra looms as a multidimensional powerhouse, teeming with interesting contrasts and knotty sojourns. With jangling percussion, supple interludes and blistering crescendos, it elicits notions of a subterranean environ. This is partly due to Borre Molstad’s understated tuba lines on the second movement of the lone piece, dedicated to Gjerstad’s former band-mates in the group Detail, titled “Yellow Bass & Silver Cornet (In Memory of Johnny Mbizo Dyani And John Stevens).” Gjerstad then accelerates the variable cadences with his wily clarinet phrasings atop Anders Hana’s blistering rock guitar lines. At times, the musicians perform as though they’re possessed by spirits, with the intentions of rising to a state of divine fulfillment. In alternating regions of sound and scope the artists execute a barrage of soul searching motifs, firmed up with free-form exchanges and weaving horns choruses. But they also mix it up with scrappy interplay, creating a mind-altering experience that is incredibly powerful and intense. Gjerstad and friends prove, beyond a doubt, that free improvisation coupled with synergistic interplay yields substance. It’s a 360 degree panorama of rapidly-moving themes, underscored by gobs of imagery and the instrumentalists finely tuned improvisational faculties. Track listing: Yellow Bass & Silver Cornet (In Memory of Johnny Mbizo Dyani And John Stevens. Personnel: Louis Moholo-Moholo: drums; Morten J. Olsen electronics, drums; Anders Hana el.guitar; Frode Gjerstad sax,clarinets; Nick Stephens: acoustic bass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums; Ingebrigt H. Flaten: acoustic bass; Borre Molstad: tuba; Sabir Mateen: sax, clarinets; Kevin Norton: vibraphone; Bobby Bradford: cornet; Lasse Marhaug: electronics; John Hegre: soundman. Style: Free Improvisation/Avant-Garde Published: February 01, 2009