PREVIEW: December’s Northern Lights season at BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3’s Northern Lights season. Photo credit: Indus Films

Chris Elcombe, senior producer of BBC Radio 3’s Jazz on 3, previews the programme’s contribution to Radio 3’s forthcoming Northern Lights season:

When we were told of Radio 3’s plans for a Northern Lights season this December, we jumped at the chance to get involved and find some new music from the countries of the North (however this might be defined). But where to travel to?

The Nordic countries are the obvious choices, having produced several of the biggest artists in contemporary jazz of the last 20 years or so. But even there, the likes of EST, Tord Gustavsen and Nils Petter Molvaer (whose set on our live show at Ronnie Scott’s is still available) are the tip of a very large iceberg that encompasses far more than the spacious, quiet approach that has become the stereotype. Thrash-jazzers The Thing, the souped-up prog-jazz of Elephant 9, and the groovy virtuosity of saxophonist Marius Neset are all testament to that.

But what lies beyond Scandinavia? We’re kicking off Jazz on 3’s involvement in Radio 3’s Northern Lights season with a whole programme exploring the current Finnish scene (yes, we’ve been pulled up by listeners for describing Finland as Scandinavian in the past!). We’ve live sets from veteran saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen (who by coincidence turns 80 this month), and at the other end of his career, trumpeter Verneri Pohjola, signed to the UK’s Edition label. And our colleague in Finnish radio, Markus Partanen, is our man on the ground, sharing some recommendations of new releases from the country.

Over the following weeks, we’ll have despatches from correspondents from Iceland and Russia, too. And on 21st December, as the winter solstice nears, we’ll be returning to Norway for a concert recorded earlier this year by vocalist Sidsel Endresen, with guitarist Stian Westerhus. I had their album from a couple of years ago on repeat when it came out, and we’re really looking forward to sharing this concert. It’s eery and inventive music, her approach to vocal improvisation is like no other. But it’s beautiful too, and makes for great late-night winter listening.

There’s lots of northern jazz coming up on other programmes on Radio 3 too, including special editions of Jazz Line Up, Jazz Record Requests and Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz.

Jazz on 3: join Jez Nelson on Monday nights on BBC Radio 3 – available for 30 days after broadcast here.

Monday 7th December: music from Finland
Monday 14th December: a selection by our Icelandic correspondent (alongside our recording of David Virelles’ recent concert as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival)
Monday 21st December: Sidsel Endresen and Stian Westerhus in concert, plus music from Russia

For more information about Radio 3’s Northern Lights season, visit bbc.co.uk/radio3.

Categories: miscellaneous

Leave a Reply