Supersonic Orchestra consists of 7 saxophones, 2 trombones, 2 trumpets, 3 double basses and 3 drum sets. Do the quick math and you’ll guess that the band spits fire when they need to, but that’s not nearly the whole story here. There’s a natural ebb and flow to the music, and the tunes are catchy to the bone. This is not free blowing just for the sake of it, but music that is borne out the love for the totality of the ensemble sound here, and even more so of the necessity to write and arrange music for this “family”.
Goran Kajfes, Signe Emmeluth, Maciej Obara, Mette Rasmussen, Petter Eldh, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Hans Hulbækmo are just a few of the names that feature here with the bandleader Nilssen and his in house arranger Roligheten. As you hear here, on stage Supersonic Orchestra is a festival of a band unto itself. Whether an all out dragon’s roar or a quiet whisper of a solo bass, this is a big band bear hug on all 17 cylinders.
RIYL: Chris McGregor Brotherhood of Breath, Clarke-Boland Big Band, Gard Nilssen’s Acoustic Unity, Koma Saxo, Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Alice Coltrane.
Drummer Chad Taylor on the liner notes:
“To present music for a big band in today’s musical climate is no easy task. There are many logistical obstacles and financial realities to contend with. In addition one must take into consideration the great legacy of big band masters of the past. How does the music you present measure up to the music of Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chris McGregor, or The Globe Unity Orchestra? Does your music make people want to dance? Does your music have a full representation of musicians in today’s current scene? How is your music relevant?
What I find remarkable about Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra is that it tackles all these questions with ease. How are they able to do this? Perhaps this has to do with its all-star cast of players, each player a distinctive voice within the ensemble. Perhaps it has to do with the outstanding collaboration between Gard and André in arranging and composing the material, and perhaps it has to do with the exceptional recording and mixing engineers Bård Ingebrigtsen, Jørgen Brennhovd and Marc Broer.
Whatever the case, this is music that needs to be heard
The make up of Supersonic Orchestra is unique. For one there is no chordal instrument. While this might present some challenges it also presents opportunities. It opens up more options for creating different chords and harmonic directions for soloists. Another unusual feature is the rhythm section. There are three drummers and three bassists. Part of the inspiration behind this is the Kenny Clarke – Francy Boland Big Band who Gard discovered during the making of this album. It too at times featured multiple bass and drums.
Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love and care, This music feels alive with hope, sincerity, joy and courage. The members of this ensemble all have strong personalities but they are united in their motive and intention. This music feels like family.“
Gard Nilssen (born 1983) is a drummer, composer, producer and bandleader based in Oslo, Norway. He is one of the most sought-after and active drummers on the jazz scene, traveling 200 days a year all around the world with his own bands such as Gard Nilssen’s Supersonic Orchestra, Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity, Bushman´s Revenge, SKRIM and Unionen. He’s also a touring member of the Norwegian pop artist Susanne Sundfør’s group, Maciej Obara 4tet, Team Hegdal, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Thomas Dybdahl band.
Born and raised in a musical family consisting of nothing but drummers, it is no surprise that the drums became Gard’s instrument of choice. Nilssen has his background in the marching bands and big bands in his hometown Skien, Norway. He studied drums with his all time hero Audun Kleive before he moved to Trondheim where he got his master degree in jazz at the NTNU University of Jazz Music (2003-2009).
His drumming is described as “energetic, creative, musical, groovy, fearless and dynamic" and he has appeared in over 80 records to date, including various sessions both as a leader and a side musician for such highly esteemed labels as ECM, Odin, Hubro, Rune Grammofon and many more.