Hulbækmo & Jacobsen Familieorkester’s Rundsnurrknurr

cover, RundsnurrknurrRundsnurrknurr is pure musical fun. The music of Hulbækmo & Jacobsen Familieorkester is based on Norwegian folk dance music, but the proclivities and unbounded creativity of the four multi-talented players take it in too many wild directions to count.

This is their second album as a group following their 2017 debut. The family orchestra is anchored around Tone Hulbækmo, a composer, singer and musician whose specialties span folk dance, contemporary songs, and medieval music. She revived the nearly extinct Norwegian harp tradition and also plays the harmonium (pump organ) and the Norwegian medieval lyre or Kravik. Hans Fredrik Jacobsen is also a composer and multi-talented musician, playing flute, saxophone, accordion, bagpipes, oud, and kantele on this album.

Their sons Hans and Alf have been playing and touring with them from an early age and are now well known in their own right. Alf is a composer, arranger, pianist, jazz musician and church organist, here playing piano, saxophone, harmonica and accordion. Hans is a prolific jazz drummer, and on this album he provides percussion, Jew’s harp, saw, and Hardanger fiddle.

With all those instruments, you might think there’s a lot going on, on Rundsnurrknurr. And you’d be right. Just selecting a few tracks at random can be a head-spinning experience. The opening “Hans Sin Vals” is a lilting waltz on which a chromatic harmonica and a flute, accompanied by delicately plucked harp and clacking percussion. A traditional Nepalese folk song is turned into a Norwegian “gangar” dance set in nine beats to the bar in “I småskauen/Kleivhøslåtten.” Then listen to “Skurken” and you hear an original polska (I think) but in a very jazzy setting with soprano sax and harmonium playing the melody and Hans on more of that clattery percussion, including a very cool solo. And the title track finds Alf playing blues harp licks while the rest of the band fills in on harp, flute and percussion for an avant garde World music experience.

At 17 tracks full of such a variety of sounds, it comes very close to the line beyond which is “too much of a good thing.” But it’s an hour’s worth of wonderful, fun, creative music. Put it on your Nordic folk playlist and I guarantee you’ll love each track that comes up on shuffle. And you can find music by each of these four musicians, alone and in various combinations, on streaming services.

Here’s a live performance from a few years ago.

(Heilo, 2024)

Gary Whitehouse

A fifth-generation Oregonian, Gary is a retired journalist and government communicator. Since the 1990s he has been covering music, books, food & drink and occasionally films, blogs and podcasts for Green Man Review. His main literary interests for GMR are science fiction, music lore, and food & cooking. A lifelong lover of music, his interests are wide ranging and include folk, folk rock, jazz, Americana, classic country, and roots based music from all over the world. He also enjoys dogs, birding, cooking, craft beer, and coffee.

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