(born 7 October 1969 in Sandefjord, Norway) is a Norwegian jazz musician (upright acoustic bass and electric bass) and composer, known from collaborations with great jazz musicians like Terri Lyne Carrington, Geri Allen, Gary Thomas, Bill Bruford, Alex Acuña, Gary Husband, Ralph Peterson, Nguyen Le and Terje Rypdal. He is married to pianist Olga Konkova, and the brother of jazz musicians Hans Mathisen (guitar), Nils Mathisen (keyboards, guitar and violin) and Ole Mathisen (saxophone and clarinet). Mathisen was educated on the Jazz program at Trondheim musikkonservatorium 1991–93, followed by a period at the Berklee School of Music in US, and returned to Norway in 1994.
He played in various bands in the Oslo region, e.g. “Erlend Gjerde Quintet”, “Inge Stangvik Quartet” and “Storeslem”, and the records Her point of view (1997), Northern crossings (2000) and Some things from home (2001), as well as Unbound (2002/2006), with Olga Konkova.
In 2001 he toured in Europe with Terri Lyne Carrington, has also played with a number of international names, such as Geri Allen, Gary Thomas, Bill Bruford, Gary Husband, Ralph Peterson, Nguyen Le and Terje Rypdal. From 2003 he was member of the transatlantic jazz collective NYNDK (with a release in 2006), so-called because the musicians come from New York, Norway and Denmark.
Mathisen has otherwise participated on recordings with the band “String Zone” (Mystery bag, 2003), Hans Mathisen (Quiet songs 2002–04), Helge Sunde & Norske Store Orkester (Denada, 2005) and Roy Powell Peak Experience Trio (2006), and has been a regular feature as bassist and leader of “workshops” in Groove Valley (annually held in Beiarn in Nordland) where artistic director is Jan Gunnar Hoff.
2013 Played with Joseph Williams, Bill Champlin and Peter Friestedt All Star Band. In the last couple of years Mathisen joins forces on the stage with one of the most recognised Scandinavian jazz names in the world – a Swedish guitarist, Ulf Wakenius. In December 2016 together with Utsi Zimring (drums) and David Kikoski (piano, synthesiser, Fender Rhodes, minimoog) he released a studio album New York City Magic under Alessa Records.
The Klangforum Wien – an Austrian chamber orchestra, based in Vienna at the Konzerthaus, which specialises in contemporary classical music, invited Mathisen to play on the latest opera of an Austrian composer Bernhard Lang‘s opera named “ParZeFool/MONDPARSIFAL Alpha 1-8” that was premiered June 4th 2017 at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria. The orchestra was conducted by Australian condoctor Simone Young, and the piece was directed by German painter, sculptor and performance artist Jonathan Meese.
In October 2017 Mathisen announced a short tour with Jan Gunnar Hoff featuring on the drums one of the greatest Cuban drummers, Horacio (“El Negro”) Hernandez, who was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. Recording a studio album under Loosen Records in Barxeta (Spain) will follow the tour.
Has been a freelance electric and acoustic upright bassplayer with base in Oslo, Norway, since 1994, and has performed in over 30 countries worldwide with some of the most famous musicians on the planet. He is often referred to as Norway’s answer to Jaco Pastorius on electric bass and Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen on acoustic upright bass.
Jan Gunnar Hoff
was educated at NTNU, Jazzdep in Trondheim 1986-89 and studied arranging and composing at NMH, Oslo 2001-2002. His career as a jazz musician started in 1976 with piano trio and as a backing musician for drummer Jon Christensen and other jazz artists at the local jazz club. Hoff became a professional musician in 1979 and toured with Arild Andersen and Nils Petter Molvær in 1982. In 1987 Hoff participated in an all star Norwegian combo presenting Jan Garbarek’s commission for the Federation of Norwegian Jazz musicians, FNJ. Hoff´s debut CD Syklus was recorded in 1992, based on a commission for the Arts Festival of North Norway. Since 1993 Hoff has worked as a bandleader presenting original compositions. Major band events include Hoff´s highly acclaimed Vossajazz-debut in 1995, Oris London Jazzfestival and Molde Int. Jazzfestival 1996 with EBU-broadcast to 12 European countries (link to TV-program). Another highlight is the successful collaboration with Pat Metheny in Molde 2001. Excerpt “Extraditon” (Metheny) from the official NRK broadcast.
Hoff and his band toured Norway, Estonia and Ukraine with Mike Stern in 2006, 2007 and 2008. From 2008 Hoff has been working with percussionist Alex Acuna and bassplayer Per Mathisen in the new trio “Acuna/Hoff/ Mathisen”. February 2010 the trio recorded a concert DVD at Drumchannel in Oxnard California. This trio has released two albums, “Jungle City” and “Barxeta”.
As a composer he has made works for chamber orchestra, sinfonietta, choir and other settings, in addition to compositions for his solo recordings. Hoff did the prestigous annual commission for Vossajazz 2005 “Free flow songs” and received an Edvard (Grieg) -prize for his jazzmazz “Meditatus” in 2006. “Meditatus” has been performed in Norway, Iceland, Canada, USA and recorded on CD in Norway and CD/DVD in Riga, Latvia.
Several duo constallations a.o with Maria Joao in Norway, Croatia and France 2008. Worth mentioning is also the Harstad festival in Northern Norway 1995 where Hoff did a spontanous duo session with Chick Corea. Other collaborations include Norwegian artists like Unni Wilhelmsen, Frode Alnæs, Jarle Bernhoft, Jan Eggum, Halvdan Sivertsen.
From 2008-2014 Hoff has performed and toured in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Croatia, Iceland, Austria, Italy, Sweden, USA, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Kirgisistan, Peru, England, Japan and Norway. Concerts in major cities such as New York, London, Stockholm, Zagreb, Los Angeles, Moscow, St.Petersburg, Tokyo, Istanbul, Vilnius.
In 2011 Hoff contributed as bandleader, arranger and pianist for the album “Quiet winter night”, later nominated for US Grammy Awards 2013 (Best surround sound album, Morten Lindberg, 2L). Hoff continued his collaboration with 2L on the solo piano album LIVING, released April 2013. Hoffs quartet-recording “Fly North” was released in January 2014, followed by the solo album “Quiet light/Stille lys” (2L December 2014). In January 2014 Hoff received the Buddy prize, the highest distinction in Norwegian jazz. May 2014 he was appointed as an official Steinway Artist and August 2014 he was selected as Artist in residence at Ingmar Bergman Estate, Fårö (Sweden). Hoff released two more albums late 2016 and early 2017: Stories, a solo piano album for 2L and Terra Nova, a crossover duo project with mezzo soprano Marianne Beate Kielland. April 2018 Hoff´s trio album Polarity was released by 2L, receiving great reviews. In June Hoff was part of the trio Mathisen/Hoff feat. Horacio Hernandez, releasing the album Barxeta II. In September 2018 Hoff will release his third album this year, Jan Gunnar Hoff Group feat. Mike Stern.
Hoff also works as a professor at the University of Tromsø and Agder, and is the head of Bodø Jazz Open.
Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1963, 'El Negro' Hernandez was said to be the most talented and innovative percussionist in the world, even before being awarded a Grammy in 1997. Whether performing with jazz-legends like McCoy Tyner or Michel Camilo, rock-stars like Carlos Santana and Stevie Winwood or in notable Latin American ensembles like the Tropi-Jazz All Stars of the late Tito Puente, 'El Negro' has also shown himself to be one of the most forceful and versatile musicians in the international music scene today.
Horacio Hernandez was born into a very musical family: His grandfather played the trumpet in, for instance, the famous Septeto National, and brought the traditional Cuban influence into the family. His father listened to jazz programs on Cuban radio, and his elder brother was fond of rock-music from the Beatles to Led Zeppelin. Horacio got his nickname 'El Negro', The Black, even before birth as an affectionate reference to his brother's best friend, who lived in the neighborhood.
Already in his earliest youth Horacio showed a talent and preference for percussion. He began with the percussion instruments in the family, practiced later on a lent drum-set and finally took lessons. These were at first with Fausto Garcia Rivera, who had been trained in America, then with Enrique Pla, the percussionist of the legendary Cuban group 'Irakere', to which Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera likewise belonged. Horacio Hernandez began studying at the National School of Arts in Havana, but even during his years of study he began to play with the saxophonist Nicolas Reynoso, to whose band belonged also the pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.
A big chance of letting off musical steam and showing his versatility came, as Horacio Hernandez worked as resident percussionist for EGREM-Studios, one of the biggest groups of studios on Cuba. Here he drummed for many rehearsals, sometimes for as many as 20 hours a day, traveling between studios and snatching intervals of sleep on an old mattress rolled up in an adjacent room. At last he became the full-time drummer in the Rubalcabas group 'Proyecto', with which he appeared for the first time abroad and made an international reputation for himself in music circles. For seven years he toured the world with this group and recorded seven albums, astonishing his hearers both with his unusual way of playing as also with his unusual set of drums. Horacio Hernandez is truly ambidextrous, being able to play the leading pattern with either hand or to play the basic rhythmic figure of Afro-Cuban music, the clave-beat, with his left foot on the high-hat or the cowbell with the foot-pedal, while his right foot supports the base line, and his hands quite independently play highly complex rhythms on the bongos and timbales, which he often includes, instead of the classical toms, in his drum-set.
In 1990 Horacio Hernandez felt it high time to let his talent be recognized beyond the borders of Cuba, so during a tour in Italy he applied for political asylum in the USA, whose officials, however, felt that they had enough musicians already and refused entry. His red tape with the authorities lasted three years, during which time he taught percussion in Rome in the Timba Centro di Percussion. In 1993 he was then allowed to move to New York but not to move on from there, so he had to turn many offers of tours down. This had, though, the positive effect of intensifying his studio work and his presence on the New York podiums with musicians like Dave Valentin, Paquo Vazquez, Daniel Ponce, Ed Simon and Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra under the baton of Paquito D’Rivera.
After the restrictions on travel were lifted, Horacio 'El Negro' Hernandez soon became one of the most wanted and well known young percussionists in the country. Especially worth mentioning is his work with Michel Camilo, as also on Kip Hanrahan's Deep Rumba project. His big breakthrough outside the jazz-scene came as a percussionist in 1997 for the album Supernatural from Carlos Santana, which brought him his first Grammy Award. He also leads his own Latin Jazz ensemble, Italuba, as composer and drummer.
Besides appearing at concerts and studios all over the world, Horacio Hernandez finds time to issue instructional books and videos like Conversations In Clave' and Traveling Through Time.