Ingrid Vik Hendriksen on vocals, Jakob Rypdal on guitar, Martin Vinje on piano, Sindre B. Øvstegård on double bass and Martin S. Ulvin on drums.
FRESH on the scene and raring to go - Little Big Adventure are five musicians from Oslo and Bergen who are setting out to show the Norwegian scene just what they can do. I find them in a bar by the harbour in Volda, a town on one of Norway's many fjords where they will later be playing the Jazz Klubben.
With views across the water and the last of the day's sun bouncing off the waves we talk whilst they start on lunch. The band have spent the day at a local high school - sums up the Norwegian education system when a group of cool young musos who deal in experimental improvised tunes rock up and give class a free gig. Back in music classes at my old comp we were lucky to find a working Casio keyboard.
But Norway's attitude to educating it's youth is integral to the story of Little Big Adventure - the band met at Folkhogskule, or folk college, essentially a school for Norwegian kids to do whatever they want for a year before uni or work, with no grades or fees to worry about. That was three years ago, and then the band had to start developing some kind of sound... 'To start we just played cover songs basically', begins Martin Vinje, before Martin Ulvin interrupts - 'It was a nice way to start... with Justin Bieber songs! Ok, not really, we played singers that we liked just like most bands do.'
'It's actually a really strange story; there was this vocalist we were at college with and she wanted a pop/jazz crossover band, then we played cover songs for a while before Sindre wrote a tune that was more towards the aesthetics we like. And we just cut out the cover tunes and did our own material.'
'So we did a tour and that was good. Then we did a gig at Molde Jazz Festival and it was nothing fancy, but after the gig there was a big disagreement in the band about how that went. The discussion was so bad that we had to split up and say 'this isn't going to work'.
'So the band quit. Then the year after we were all based in Bergen and Oslo, and Sindre had written some tunes he wanted to play...'
'I just wanted to continue the band', says Sindre, 'then one weekend we did some sessions with the four of us where we decided we needed a vocalist'.
Back to Martin U. - 'We realised we knew Ingrid very well from the same year at college, so she joined and now we don't play any of the old tunes bar maybe one'.
So from a previous incarnation, a change in cities and a year long hiatus, Little Big Adventure were formed. The band began to write music, and bassist Sindre explains more about the process...
'I try to play stuff that's really open, whether it's straight metrical music or something more free. It doesn't matter what I play, it's how I play it - just playing what feels good.'
'There's a lot of riffs that I just go totally away from, but I play a rhythmic pattern that is similar. So I may change the riff to something else but I still indicate the same pulse. We try to feel free and challenge our perception of things.'
'It's about timing I think - we need the root of the song, you need the riff, the ground zero, and then we progress from there. No one knows how it will work but it's a collective decision to put the song together'.
Martin U - 'The material is clear, but what we do with it is very open, like just the concert that we just did at the high school - we did our arrangements, but Sindre did something completely different on bass. But still we knew it so well we can take it in a different direction and it goes where it goes. It will still be the same tune 'cos we have the confidence.'
Amongst the clatter of the bar everyone murmurs agreement - Keysman Martin V. says 'Its so open that if someone decides 'oh fuck this lets do something different' then you can do that and people will follow you. So its very open. We kind of start with a concrete idea and decompose it.'
Ingrid - 'For an audience listening for the first time you will hear a song and think that's the version, but the version always changes.'
'It makes the element of surprise very interesting for us', says Sindre, 'that's what I like with this kind of music that is really strictly arranged, and then we try to do something else with it and that surprises us'.
'For my part I try to do rhythmic stuff that gets peoples' attention and makes them part of the whole holistic situation.'
'It's like when I hear a poem or see a picture I try to imagine something else beyond it, I think how I would do it. Its always funny when someone starts to talk about the music in a different way and does something different with it - I think people can sense that.'
'Its all about how you feel in the band and if you trust each other - trust is so important, and here we trust each other and I trust them to accept what I do and I accept what they do.'
After their year of rehearsing and writing I can really sense this is a band that trusts and accepts each other. Ingrid's vivid vocal phrasing dips and soars around Martin Ulvin's frenetic drums, Jakob's liquid guitar melodies and Martin Vinjes imaginative jazz infused piano balance on the axis of Sindre's double bass, and watching them play at the Jazz Klubben later it all melds to make music at times intimate, at times explosive - and all the way through an adventure.
You can check Little Big Adventure out here: www.soundcloud.com/littlebigadventureSuggest a correction