Photo: Roar Vestad

Jon Christensen

Drummer and percussionist Jon Christensen (b. 20.03.1943, d. 18.02.2020) started out at 15 as a big band drummer, at first in Gunnar Brostigen's orchestra, then with Arild Bjørk (1960), played with Finn Melbye's quintet in the Norwegian jazz amateur competition 1960; the band won first prize and Jon Christensen himself became runner up among the soloists.

This soon made him a much sought after drummer, he was a member of the Arild Wikstrøm Quartet from 1961, he played steady with Egil Kapstad's trio (and Karin Krog) 1962-1964, was a backing musician at the Metropol jazz club (1962-1965) where he met international stars like Bud Powell, Don Ellis and Dexter Gordon. He was in the festival backing at Molde 1963-1965, 67 and 69, played in Karin Krog's quartet 1963-1968 (recordings 1963, 1964 and 1966, festivals at Antibes 1964 and Montreux 1968), Terje Bjørklund Trio 1965-1966, in addition to playing with Egil Kapstad (recording 1967) and Steve Kuhn (1968). In 1967 he won the Jazznytt musician poll and the Jazz Association's Buddy award.

In 1964 he embarked on his lasting cooperation with Jan Garbarek, at first in Jan Garbarek's quartet 1964-1967, trio / quartet 1967-1969 (recording 1967) and quartet / quintet 1969-1972 (recordings 1969, 1970 and 1971, with Jan Erik Vold 1969, 1970 and 1973). He also recorded with Terje Rypdal (1968 and 1971), George Russell (1969, 1970 and 1971), Jan Allan and Rune Gustafsson (1969), Bobo Stenson and Palle Danielsson (1971) and Nordic Big Band (1971), played in Arild Boman's experimental groups (1968-1969) and Frode Thingnæs' sextet (Montreux 1969), worked with Stan Getz (1970), Sonny Rollins (1971), Joe Farrell (1971) and European workshop (1972).

During 1972-1974 he played with Terje Rypdal (recordings 1973 and 1974), recorded with George Russell and Ketil Bjørnstad 1973 and in the same year joined the Jan Garbarek / Bobo Stenson Quartet (1973-1977, recordings 1973, 1975 and 1977, also with Jan Erik Vold 1977), made records with Karin Krog (1973-1974), Ralph Towner (1974 and 1977), Jan Garbarek / Keith Jarrett (6 LPs 1974-1979), Enrico Rava (1975 and 1976), Eberhard Weber (1975), voted Drummer of the Year by the European Jazz Federation 1975, during this period he played with countless international names and was practically the house drummer for the German record label ECM.

In 1976 he made the first record under his own name, "No Time for Time" with his young colleague Pål Thowsen, and won the Spelleman award for this (1977). He was a member of several bands, the Radka Toneff Quintet 1976-1978 (recording 1977), the group Blow Out 1977-1978 (recording 1977), Terje Rypdal / Palle Mikkelborg quartet and trio 1977-1080 (recordings 1978 and 1979) and Miroslav Vitous Group 1979-1982 (recordings 1979, 1980 and 1982), recorded with Lennart Åberg (1977), and Mike Nock (1981), besides playing in Det Skandinaviske Jazzensemblet 1980 and 1981 under the leadership of Carla Bley and Gil Evans.

1981-1982 he was again a member of Jan Garbarek's quartet (recording 1981), the Knut Riisnæs Quartet 1981-1984 (recording 1982) and the Jazz Punk Ensemble 1982-1985, and there were more recordings (Stu Goldberg and Håkon Graf 1982) by this eminent drummer who no doubt holds the Norwegian record for appearances on record.

In 1982 he joined Arild Andersen in establishing a quintet with the young musicians Nils Petter Molvær, Tore Brunborg and Jon Balke, after 1984 the group would be called Masqualero after their first record (1983). With Masqualero he has made a further three records ("Bande a part" 1985, "Aero" 1987 and "Re-enter" 1990), received three Spellemann awards (1983, 1986 and 1991), and played festival gigs and tours both in Europe and the US.

Jon Christensen is an extremely open minded and sensitive drummer, but also a governing dynamic force and with a very decisive influence on the musical outcome. The 1980s and 1990s have also brought exciting commissions, such as Brødrene Balke's Etno Funk (Kongsberg 1984), E'Olen (Molde 1985), his "percussionist workshop" with Alex Riel at Kongsberg 1986, stints with Lars Danielsson Quartet from 1985 (recordings 1985, 1994 and 1996), John Scofield 1989-1992, Sidsel Endresen Group from 1990 (recordings 1990 and 1993), Oslo 13 from the same year (recording 1992), Bennie Wallace 1991, trio with Bobo Stenson and Bjørn Alterhaug from 11992, Tore Brunborg Prosjekt from 1992 (recording same year), Bugge Wesseltoft 1993, and recordings with Göran Klinghagen (1986), Harry Pepl / Herbert Joos (1987), Alfred Janson (1987), Per Husby (1987), Bjørn Alterhaug (1988 and 1990-91), Jazz-Punk Ensemblet (1991 and 1997), Tomasz Stanko (record 1991 and Molde gig 1997), music for the old silent film "Laila", records with Ingeborg Hungnes / Terje Venaas (1993), Ketil Bjørnstad (1993 and 1994), Bendik Hofseth (1994), Misha Alperin (1995 and 1997), Terje Rypdal (1996), Bobo Stenson Trio ("Serenity" 1999), Olga Konkova (2001) and Ron Olsen (released 2002), Rita Marcotulli (released 2003), Terje Rypdal, "Vossabrygg» 2003, and Terje Gewelt "Small world", Jacob Young's "Evening falls," Lars Danielsson "Libera Me" and "Mélange bleu" duoplata "Senderos" with Dino Saluzzi and Finnish Iro Haarla’s "North Bound," the seven last albums being released in the period 2004-06..

Catch your breath - we also need to mention that he received the Oslo Artist Award 1987 and was voted Musician of the Year 1992 by the FNJ.

The Norwegian Jazz Archives / MIC Norway

Share the story on:
                    |     More


New acquisitions from the National Library (sheet music)

MIC-pages is managed by Aslak Oppebøen
Tel: +47 90175338 ·