A tightly integrated trio with an original sound … attractive, fuzzy and funky (Jazz Journal International)
An award-winning Anglo-Scandinavian contemporary jazz trio
Stekpanna is an Anglo-Scandinavian jazz trio comprising Mads Kjølby (Guitar; Denmark), Steve Kershaw (Bass; England) and Petter Svärd (Drums; Sweden), who met at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California, in 1995. They played their first gig in Los Angeles in 1996, winning the Battle of the Bands, and since then have played hundreds of gigs across 26 different countries.
A random selection of their performances includes:
- Århus International Jazz Festival, Denmark;
- Havana Jazz Festival, Cuba;
- International Jazz Day, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London;
- Jazzklubb Fashing, Stockholm;
- Keitelejazz Festival, Finland;
- Rainbowjazz Festival, Estonia;
- Ronnie Scott's Club, London;
- State Jazz Philharmonic Hall, St Petersburg, Russia.
They play a highly distinctive modern European style of ‘unclassifiable post-jazz’ (The Guardian), and inhabit a spacious sonic landscape characterised by deep grooves, driving swing, quirky melodies and a good deal of wit and humour.
Repertoire consists of original compositions by all three band members, along with distinctive re-workings of classic tunes that aren’t usually associated with jazz (Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Black Sabbath, etc.).
Their releases include four trio CDs (Standin’ Tall; Ouch!; All For a Beautiful Life; and Starlight Barking) plus two collaborative ones (Notes From Underground and Latin From the North). Each member of the trio also has a significant body of work independent from Stekpanna.
Hip and happening (The Guardian)
A different musical path with impressive results ... the trio was described by the LA Weekly as ‘hip, happening and deeply groovy’ - well who could argue with that? (Jazz UK)
Coolly inventive … a group with a broad view and adaptable skills … plenty of sparky moments (John Fordham)
There's the mainstream, there's the road less travelled, and then there's Stekpanna. Quick-witted and distinctive as ever (Jazzwise)
The roar of approval at the end was unanimous (Stratford-Upon-Avon Herald)
STARLIGHT BARKING: REVIEWSStekpanna’s most recent CD ‘Starlight Barking’ was officially released on 1st February 2010.
‘Igor’s U-Turns’ from the CD was played on BBC Radio 3’s Jazz Line Up programme on 21st February 2010. This is how presenter Claire Martin described the trio:
‘Stekpanna are an award-winning Anglo-Scandinavian contemporary jazz trio. They played their first gig in 1996 in L.A., and won a Battle of the Bands competition, and have since played hundreds of gigs across 26 different countries. They play a distinctive modern European style of unclassifiable post-jazz, and their repertoire consists of original compositions by all three members of the band, alongside re-workings of classic tunes that aren’t usually associated with jazz – think Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. L.A. Weekly described them as ‘Hip, happening and deeply groovy’, so here they are…’Here are a few of the early reviews:
I was interested to see the Stekpanna release - saw them in Fulham first time around many years ago. Love the way they draw the venom from Paranoid - a rocker worth covering by jazzmen!
JAZZ JOURNAL, MARCH 2010
Moscow Night Train; Igor’s U-Turns; (Stek)-Paranoid; The Tone, The Whole Tone And Nothing But The Tone; Brother Nick; Calypso Collapso; The Ballad Of The Heavyweight Champions; So You Claim; Sunday; Starlight Barking (46.54)
Mads Kjølby (g, elg); Steve Kershaw (b); Petter Svärd (d, pc). 2009.
Slam CD 282
This the fourth release from this Danish-Anglo-Swedish trio. It was always a band focused on rhythm and hummable melody; the opening track begins sinisterly with shimmering and rumbling and twanging before giving way to long, languid guitar lines which lope along over locomotive drums and a (there is no other word) groovy bassline. Mention must be made of their deconstruction of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. It may seem to be jumping on the bandwagon popularised by the likes of the Bad Plus, but Stekpanna have been doing this sort of mischief for years (previous albums have included tracks such as A Whole Lotta Love Supreme) and the simple changing of the rhythm makes the tune entirely theirs. The Tone, The Whole Tone And Nothing But The Tone might refer to whole tone scales but it could equally summarise the sound of the whole album. The sound throughout is gorgeous. This is music to make you smile.
THE MUSICIAN, Spring 2010
Expressive jazz trio Stekpanna consists of bassist Steve Kershaw, guitarist Mads Kjolby and drummer Petter Svard. Possessing portfolios of significant work in their own right as soloists and group members, plus considerable experience touring across Russia, Scandinavia and Cuba, the trio offer a relaxed and ultra-clean sound. Echoing some unusual combinations in their repertoire – Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and James Brown for example – the unexpected twists and turns the threesome engage upon thrill and surprise in equal measure.
FRANÇOIS COUTURE (FRANCE)STEKPANNA / Starlight Barking (Slam Productions)
Voilà plus ce que j'attends de Slam: du jazz moderne, intelligent, rigolo même. Ce trio angloscandinave (Mads Kjølby, guitare; Steve Kershaw, contrebasse; Peter Svärd, batterie) n'en est pas à son premier album. Starlight Barking frétille d'échanges allumés entre acolytes. Je détecte une forte influence de Monk, un peu de Mahavishnu Orchestra aussi. Et on trouve une reprise audacieuse de "Paranoid" de Black Sabbath!
That's what I was expecting from Slam: modern, intelligent, funny jazz. This Anglo-Scandinavia trio (Mads Kjølby, guitar; Steve Kershaw, bass; Peter Svärd, drums) has a few other albums under their belt. Starlight Barking is full of enlightened exchanges between long-time friends. I can hear a strong Monk influence, and a certain Mahavishnu Orchestra flavor. And wait until you hear their bold rereading of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid"!
THE FOUR SHIRES, February 2010More years ago than I care to admit I was wearily travelling on an overnight train from Moscow to Leningrad (or St. Petersburg as it now is) having spent the previous two days crossing Europe in similar style. This memory was triggered by the latest release by the Anglo-Scandinavian contemporary jazz trio Stekpanna, whose bass player Steve Kershaw lives in Deddington, just south of Banbury. The much travelled band have appeared a number of times in Russia, and have performed in this country with some of the best musicians from there. Their new CD, "Starlight Barking" is available this month and opens with an atmospheric track Moscow Night Train inspired by the trio’s endless overnight journeys across Russia. Trains and railways have always been a favourite theme of jazz composers and this is an excellent addition to the list. You can almost feel the motion of the train. Drummer Petter Svärd penned this composition and also the interestingly titled The Tone, the Whole Tone, and Nothing But the Tone, which uses the whole tone scale favoured by, amongst others, Thelonious Monk. The melody line is superb and the musicians seem to be having a ball with this one: certainly one of the better tracks in this excellent album. Necessarily, guitarist Mads Kjølby is featured most frequently as soloist especially on his own compositions; So You Claim being very typical of his work, and Sunday on which acoustic guitar is heard conjures up one of those quiet, stress-free Sundays (do they still exist?). The trio have adapted rock band Black Sabbath's Paranoid to produce (Stek)¬Paranoid whilst Kershaw contributes a Cuban flavour in Calypso Collapso and the title track which "honours" his springer spaniel. I have praised the work of this trio previously and continue to enjoy their recorded work. You may, like me, have come up through the mainstream of jazz yet you will almost certainly find much to enjoy in this CD. If you are a committed contemporary jazz fan this will be a necessary purchase. It is available from Slam records - based in Abingdon - on www.slamproductions.net
MUSICBOOM (ITALY)Abbaiando alle stele (Starlight Barking). Jazz mainstream con nuove idée **** [Four star review]
Stekpanna è un classico trio jazz per chitarra e ritmica costituito da Mads Kjølby chitarra acustica ed elettrica, Steve Kershaw contrabbasso e Petter Svärd batteria. Fino a qua si potrebbe pensare ad una band che fa degli standard, che cerca di orientarsi alla tradizione di un Barney Kessel. Ed invece no, preferiscono composizioi proprie che riflettono le loro visioni musicali es eseguono unvecchio brano che è un classico dell´heavy metal: "paranoid" della band intorno all´ormai famoso, dopo le disavventure televisive Ozzy Osborne.
Mads Kjølby cambia le sue chitarre e la ritmica lo sostiene vivacemente evitando di ricalcare orme stantie. La prima cosa che colpisce delle loro musica è l´originalità, all´interno della strada maestra del jazz, ma neanche presa troppo sul serio. Così si affacciano elementi europei, fusion che vengono modificati e resi con una pronuncia jazzistica che fa leva su una preparazione strumentale notevole. Sono dei maestri dei loro strumenti e non ne fanno mistero. Una band notevole che ha le qualità per essere presa sul serio a livello internazionale.
Translation by Gabs Damiani:
Abbaiando alle stele (Starlight Barking). Jazz mainstream with new ideas
Stekpanna is a classic jazz guitar trio with percussion formed by Mads Kjølby acoustic and electric guitar, Steve Kershaw double bass and Petter Svärd drum kit. So far we could be tricked into thinking they are a band that only plays the standards, which follows the traditions of, for instance, Barney Kessel. However they prefer their own compositions which reflect their own original ideas, and perform an old heavy metal favourite: “Paranoid”, a take on the band after the TV misadventures of the famous/infamous Ozzy Osborne.
Mads Kjølby changes guitars and the rhythm section supports him with a lively style which avoids old fashioned/boring stereotypes. Their music impresses for its originality, within the mainstream of jazz, but on a ‘not-too-serious’ level. So we can hear European elements, which are modified and made into a sort of fusion – the whole is then presented to the audience with a jazz ‘pronunciation’ which relies on a solid technical and musical instrumental preparation. They are indeed masters of their own instruments, and this is not a mystery. A most notable band which possesses the qualities to be taken very seriously on an international level.
LIRA (SWEDEN)Jazz. På sitt förra album hyllade Stekpanna pugilistiken med Rumble in the jungle. När den skandinavisk-engelska trion återkommer med en ny skiva hyllas boxningen i The ballad of the heavyweight champions, en låt som trots sin titel är besinningsfullt lågmäld och eftertänksam.Det lågmälda svänget präglar hela skivan. Gruppens kompositioner är kärnfulla, teoretiskt reflekterade utan att förlora sin förankring i en erfarenhet eller uttryckssträvan. The tone, the whole tone and nothing but the tone bygger på heltonsövergångar. (Stek)-Paranoid baseras på Black Sabbaths gamla hit men rytm och tempo skiftar i en tillbakalutad och personlig tolkning. Och baslinjerna är läckert framåtlutade.Musiken formas i suveränt samförstånd. Mads Kjølby är en glimrande gitarrist. Han förenar swing, bebop och progressiv rock och får lyhörd inramning av basisten Steve Kershaw och Petter Swärds trummor. Musiken är pregnant i sitt sväng och ytterst smakfull.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ (ITALY)Il primo brano di questo Starlight Barking del gruppo anglo-scandinavo Stekpanna è decisamente esplicativo della musica che possiamo ascoltare nel resto dell'album. Si parte con una introduzione misteriosa che ricorda le atmosfere incantate dei fiordi popolati dai folletti nordici, per poi passare ad un clima più solare, quasi latineggiante, dove il chitarrista Mads Kjolby sembra voler evocare più Pat Metheny che non Terje Rypdal.
Anche i restanti 9 brani sono scritti dai tre componenti del gruppo, con una importante eccezione della quale parliamo di seguito. I tre musicisti si muovono con la giusta souplesse in uno scenario di jazz moderno disincantato e ritmicamente lieve, senza grandi forzature, ma allo stesso tempo pieno di grazia e di coerenza. Senza scordare mai di immettere nel mix anche una sana dose di ironia.
Il chitarrista è sempre al centro della scena e il suo protagonismo, forse un po' prevaricante, risulta essere comunque funzionale al contesto. Il bassista Steve Kershaw e il batterista Petter Svard assecondano perfettamente il lavoro di Kjolby e sanno ritagliarsi piccoli spazi senza mai però forzare il concetto di fondo che è quello di un guitar trio moderno, delicato ed elegante.
La decostruzione del celebre "Paranoid" dei Black Sabbath diventa l'occasione per mettere al lavoro uno strumento ben affilato che nelle mani degli Stekpanna serve per tagliare via le scorie, giungendo a sintetizzare e addolcire l'essenza di un riff che nella sua forma originale un po' ruvida ha dominato la scena dell'heavy rock per tanti anni. Una metamorfosi sorprendente che ci colpisce quasi come se ci trovassimo di fronte ad un lupo selvaggio che, dopo un bel bagno nell'acqua salata e profumata di torba, si è trasformato magicamente in un bel levriero spagnolo. Che ulula alle stelle.
Valutazione: 3.5 stelle. Musicisti: Mads Kjolby (chitarre); Steve Kershaw (contrabbasso); Petter Svard (batteria e percussioni). Stile: Modern Jazz
Translation by Helen Anderson
The first piece from the album ‘Starlight Barking’ by Anglo-Scandinavian group Stekpanna undoubtedly points to the type of music we hear in the rest of the album. It begins with a mysterious introduction that recalls the enchanted atmospheres of the fjords populated by Nordic people, then moves to a sunnier and almost ‘latino’ climate, where guitarist Mads Kjolby seems to want to evoke Pat Metheny if not Terje Rypdal.
The other 9 pieces too are written by the three group members, with one important exception, which I will discuss next. The three musicians move with perfect fluidity to create a modern and honest jazz that has a light rhythm/tempo and that is unforced, but at the same time coherent and full of grace. And they never forget to throw a healthy dose of irony into the mix.
The guitarist is always at the forefront and his role as protagonist, which is perhaps a little false, also turns out to be functional in the context of the group. Bassist Steve Kershaw and drummer Petter Svard support Kjolby’s work perfectly and know how to carve out small spaces for themselves without ever forcing the basic concept, which is that of a modern, delicate and polished guitar trio.
The deconstruction of the famous ‘Paranoid’ by Black Sabbath becomes the time to put to work a well-honed instrument that in the hands of Stekpanna cuts away all excess, succeeding in a synthesis and sweetening of the essence of a riff that in its rather coarse original form dominated the heavy rock scene for many years. It is a surprising metamorphosis that strikes you almost as if you were suddenly faced with a wild wolf that, perfumed with peat and drenched in salt water, magically transforms into a beautiful Spanish greyhound. What a bark to the stars.