I was lucky enough to catch up with Norwegian guitar virtuoso Marius Noss Gundersen. Above you will find the cover for his Christmas release and at the end of our chat a link to my review!
You are a critically acclaimed classical guitarist. Tell us about the last solo release where you infused jazz and Brazilian rhythms into an effortless presentation with a delightful ebb and flow. Most classical players attempting this transition come off technically proficient but slightly stiff in their execution, you didn't. How do you account for that?
M.G. - "I’ve been fascinated by South American music, and particularly Brazilian music for years. Since my youth I have been listening to a lot of different kinds of music, and have always liked melodic and rhythmical jazz so it felt quite natural to play some Brazilian music. I think that since I’ve been listening to so much non-classical music over the years I learned a lot from all kinds of great musicians and the Classical guitar just happens to be the tool I use to make my music. Alongside my education as a classical guitarist I’ve always played around with jazz influenced music, had a lot of fun with it and in the end it turned out to be a good combination. The classical guitar has a major place in a lot of Brazilian music and that might have had something to do with my fascination for its music…"
Do you plan to stay in the same Brazilian type wheelhouse on your next jazz recording or are you looking to expand your horizons and how has your movement into the improvisational world been accepted by some of your classical contemporaries?
M.G. - "It’s hard to say what my next recording will turn out like. I’m in the middle of a process of composing more of my own music and that might turn out to be my next recording. Most of my own music ends up being composed in a Brazilian style so I think a production like that would be a “Norwegian take on Brazilian Music” recording. Since my music balance between jazz and classical music it seems like it is enjoyed just as much by jazz fans as the classical audience. Personally I don’t label my music as Jazz, Classical or any other genre, I make and perform music and enjoy doing it."
Do you think jazz musicians from Europe get a fair shake in the States or do you find yourself having to work that much harder? Compare that to experiences in your home country.
M.G. - "I think that European musicians have pretty much the same chance of making it in the US as Americans have of making it in Europe, musically. That said it seems like it’s hard to get a working visa to the US. It takes quite a lot of work and it is quite expensive. Financially it is difficult for Norwegians to go and play in the US or any other place on the planet. Norway is a country with high salaries and other countries struggle to compete with the level of fees musicians could expect to get paid for playing. Nordic music has a unique sound that stands out and is appreciated around the globe, and with that in mind I think thet what we have to offer might be exotic to an American audience."
From a jazz perspective who are your influences on guitar, have you tried to pattern your music after anyone in particular or do you think your successful release is simply the cultural by product of your own experiences?
M.G. - "I think I’ve had my share of influence from guitar players like Pat Metheny, Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery (as probably most of my generation of guitarists) I also have been inspired by some Brazilian guitarists like Marco Pereira, Luiz Bonfa, Laurindo Almeida and Egberto Gismonti. When I comes to my own music I haven’t tried to pattern it after someone else but it shouldn’t be to difficult to hear the influence, especially from the Brazilian guitarists/composers."
What does the future hold and does the somewhat shaky global economy play a huge role in what may be happening next?
M.G. - "Hopefully my future will be full of new and interesting music. I’ve got plans for my solo career, a lot of interesting projects for my guitar duo “Duo Gvito” and together with a few fantastic Norwegian jazz musicians I will take part in a project with focus on Brazilian standards. So the next couple of years should be very interesting. The global economy might slow down the progress of my international career, fortunately Norway is one of the financially strongest economies in the world and people seems to be willing to spend money on cultural experiences. My crystal ball tells me I have many years of great music ahead of me, and hope it will turn out that way. Let’s bring Brazilian guitar music to the people!"