Norwegian jazz guitarist Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen was titled ‘Young Jazz Talent of the Year’, in 2009, 27 years old. Listen to the noise of a Norwegian jazz guitarist.
Since then, she and her trio, Hedvig Mollestad Trio, has released a series of albums, and nobody can make a noise quite like this power trio. Her last album, the seventh full-length recording, ‘Ding Dong. You’re Dead’ was released last year. The trio is Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, guitar; Ellen Brekken, bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, drums.
Ding Dong, You’re Dead
On this record the band seems to prefer to stomp rather than swing. Or, put another way, use the swing and shuffle of jazz to add texture and dynamics to its loud, high-octane compositions in the manner of the Jimi Hendrix Experience or the James Gang.
Thomassen was born in Ålesund and is a graduate from the Norwegian Academy of Music. She has performed with a variety of rock and jazz bands, including her own Hedvig Mollestad Trio, Bronco Busters, Songs and Sweet Potatoes. She also has a central role in the bands of Jarle Bernhoft and Hilde Marie Kjersem, and has performed with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra.
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“So cool that she deserves her own harstag”
The Hedvig Mollestad trio is blending hard rock swagger with jazz harmonic precision and a psychedelic atmosphere. When they released the album ‘Black Stabat Mater’ in 2016, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet wrote, “The trio accelerates with the same gruff feel as a snappy sports car.” “In the modern guitar trio tradition, where Schorch Trio, Krokofant and Bushman’s Revenge have set up signs, Hedvig Mollestad’s trio hatch-parks smoothly and loudly, with a good distance from the others,” wrote Aftenposten, while Dagens Næringsliv believed that “Mollestad’s playing is so cool and characteristic that it deserves its own hashtag.”
The trio has received numerous appraising reviews internationally, for both their studio albums and live performances. Their music is inspired by ’70s heavyrock, but creates a peculiar musical mixture of ingredients like free jazz, prog and psychedelia. On its website the band describes their own music as “Outgoing & progressive instrumental rock”. Since the trio’s formation in 2009, HMT has played many concerts and jazz festivals in both Norway and abroad and they have toured in Europe, Malaysia, Japan and the USA.
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Made music since she was very little
Fusion is a much-maligned word. But it’s appropriate for HMT music, as it draws so many elements – jazz, hard rock, psych – into a unified whole. Although Hedvig is the owner of one of Norway’s most characteristic guitar voices, for a long time she was not at all sure if it was music she should devote herself to. When she grew up on Bogneset just outside Ålesund, she enjoyed both playing volleyball, reading books, and was above average interested in fishing.
But she has made music since she was very little. She can even remember the very first songs she made. Hedvig also made a short theatre piece, with music, when she was very young.
When the trio released the album Enfant Terrible in 2014, one critique wrote, “Many bands use the studio as something different than live performance — and there’s no doubt that there’s better control over sound — but Hedvig Mollestad Trio makes clear, on all its recordings, that it is recorded live in the studio. It’s a challenge to make records that capture the sheer energy, monumental power and flat-out attitude of live performance, but as much as Hedvig Mollestad Trio kicks serious butt onstage, it manages to do the same thing in the studio.”
The Noise of a Norwegian Jazz Guitarist, written by Tor Kjolberg