Harald Johnsen

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Bassist Harald Johnsen certainly benefits from the way his name is spelled in his native Norway, pretty much removing the possibility of being confused with other jazzy guys named Harold Johnson, including…
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Bassist Harald Johnsen certainly benefits from the way his name is spelled in his native Norway, pretty much removing the possibility of being confused with other jazzy guys named Harold Johnson, including one of Duke Ellington's trumpeters and a funky pianist from the '60s. While there are many modern jazz musicians from Norway that haven't been heard much outside of Scandinavia, Johnsen has performed throughout Europe and the United States since the '90s, largely in the context of a trio led by pianist Tord Gustavsen.

Rave reviews greeted the ECM recordings of this combo, as well as their touring activities, with even some of the critical comments sounding enticing: "...a little too frigid to be sexy, yet way too intelligent to go unexplored," wrote Brent Burton in the Baltimore City Paper. The Gustavsen group's recordings have even hit the pop charts in Norway, joining the list of piano trios whose sounds have appealed to listeners outside the pure jazz audience.

The bassist is considered something of a connecting current between different centers of jazz energy, not that he should be mistaken for the Harald Johnsen who was running one of Norway's power companies in 2003. Johnsen the bassist is comfortable in settings ranging from be-bop to avant garde. He has collaborated with players such as Bjørn Johansen, Sigurd Køhn, Christain Reim, Jan Erik Kongshaug, and the Silje Nergaard Band. With a pair of performers who present alternate spellings of a popular Norwegian first name -- Eivind Sannes on piano and Eyvind Olsen on drums -- Johnsen is part of a house band that backs up guest soloists at Oslo jazz clubs.