HÅKON KORNSTAD SAXOPHONE & OPERA TENOR
By using his imagination and a simple electronic device to record and play back loops as he performs, Håkon Kornstad realizes in concert the idea so aptly expressed by the title of his album Symphonies in My Head. His instrumental skill is unsurpassed: beautiful tone on whichever saxophone he selects, percussive sounds made by the use of the instrument's keys and tonguing techniques, a colorful palette broadened by the expert use of overtones. Rhapsodic, improvised melodies glide over sonic layers that grow into an orchestral accompaniment. This artistic richness would be enough for most, but Kornstad’s restless curiosity has taken him into unexpected territory. He’s found new inspiration in opera and has developed his voice as an operatic tenor. Bringing his two tenors together, saxophonist and singer, he has created an unprecedented sound, an evocative "tenor battle" that emerges in the single person of this singular artist.
"... when talking about jazz tenor and opera tenor in one body and soul, there is only one name: Håkon Kornstad."
TERJE MOSNES, DAGBLADET (NORWAY)
"About halfway through the set, he shocked the crowed again by playing the one card he had left in the deck: a strong opera tenor voice that sounded more doleful than booming, more confessional than dramatic. After several minutes of loop-building on the saxophone and flute, he stepped back from the instrument microphone and launched into Gluck's 'O del mio dolce ardor.' The first few notes came unexpected and unannounced, and they brought a catch to my throat."
PAUL BOWERS, CHARLESTON CITY PAPER (USA)
"It could have been a virtuosic circus act, but in Kornstad's hands was a musical tour de force."
JOHN FORDHAM, THE GUARDIAN (UK)
"Jazz and operatic tenor are not the most obvious bedfellows. In fact on paper you might think, hmm, this could very easily sound dreadful. But Kornstad has found a way of presenting the unlikely alloy, with perfectly suited band, in such a way that it not only works, it feels like each enhances the other still further. Copper and tin have their won charms, but bronze has a certain lustre that is irresistible."
PETER BACON, THE JAZZ BREAKFAST (UK)
"To anyone with even the slightest interest in jazz and opera, Kornstad is a musician who simply must be heard, for there is no one else like him! A modern legend in jazz? No doubt about it!"
WILLIAM BROWN, THE JOURNAL (UK)
"Over the last decade saxophonist Håkon Kornstad has emerged as one of Norway's most original and daring musicians."
PETER MARGASAK, DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE (USA)
“... he manages to turn his improvisations into small symphonies, arresting in their structure and deep emotional impact.”
EYAL HAREUVENI, ALL ABOUT JAZZ (USA)
"Amidst a nation of musicians who fearlessly and seamlessly find ways to marry music and technology on the most human of terms, Håkon Kornstad still stands alone."
JOHN KELMAN, ALL ABOUT JAZZ (USA)
"The Norwegian saxophonist Håkon Kornstad has a deeply focused tone and a dazzling command of expressive effects."
NATE CHINEN, THE NEW YORK TIMES (USA)
“Kornstad sings beautifully, with a clear and open sound. It is remarkable that he should have achieved this level of vocal proficiency in less than five years. (...) Kornstad is on a journey that will take him who-knows-where. But I would not be surprised if Kornstad further insinuates himself in the world of opera and classical music, eventually throwing himself all in. Apparently, he's got the goods.”
ADAM PARKER, POST AND COURIER (CHARLESTON, SC, USA)
KORNSTAD’S "SWEDEN", LIVE AT SPOLETO USA, CHARLESTON SC, 2014
KORNSTAD’S "OSLO", LIVE AT SPOLETO USA, CHARLESTON SC, 2014
JAZZ VS. OPERA - A TENOR BATTLE. TED TALK BY KORNSTAD (2012)
KORNSTAD’S TAKE ON "O DEL MIO DOLCE ARDOR" (GLUCK), LIVE AT SPOLETO USA, CHARLESTON SC, JUNE 2014
KORNSTAD TRIO INTERPRETS TOSTI'S "APRILE" (APRIL 2020)