Galumphing Duo features South African-born and Norway-based reeds player-conductor-eductor Shannon Mowday and Norwegian, Oslo-based trombonist Jørgen Bjelkerud. This duo has been working for almost ten years now and brings together two musicians from completely different backgrounds and generations who have found common ground in composition and improvisation. The debut album of the duo tells playful and intimate musical stories from both sides of the globe.
This duo borrows the concept of Galumphing, created by American musician and educator Stephen Nachmanovitch and presented in his book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art (Penguin, 1990), which can be described as ‘inexhaustible play energy’ as seen in toddlers and small animals. Both musicians respect form and structure but allow freedom to go where the moment directs them. They aim to create music stripped of overproduction, letting the vulnerability and honesty of their innate musicality and interplay be exposed and highlight the beauty of imperfection.
The aptly titled debut album of Galumphing Duo, Contrast of Opposites, is a genre-defying work that matches the jazz legacy with classical and contrapuntal music, and, obviously, strong influences from the folk music of Norway and South Africa (including playing with themes from a Zulu lullaby and a traditional xhosa song). The opening piece, «Woza Waltz», captures best the aesthetics of the duo. Woza in the Southern Bantu language Isizulu means Come and serves as an invitation to take the first waltz with the duo and join its joyful dance. This piece begins with a Nguni language IsiXhosa groove imitating the traditional South African instrument uhadi and then morphs into a bebop-tinged waltz, now regarded as a South African jazz standard. The short songs, including a cover of George Gershwin’s «Summertime» and an improvisation on Bob Thiele and George David Weiss’ «What a Wonderful World», and other pieces composed by Mowday, encompass issues like beginning and endings, life and death, love and hate and the transient state of all of us. The Galumphing Duo presents these emotional story-like songs with captivating intimacy, elegance and humor and within in a spontaneous and innocent vision.
Shannon Mowday (alto saxophone, baritone saxophones, tubax, contra-alto clarinet), Jørgen Bjelkerud (trombone)