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Hedvig Mollestad: Weejuns

Hedvig Mollestad: Weejuns
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Beginning with her first trio album, 2011’s Shoot!, Norwegian guitarist Hedvig Mollestad quickly drew attention as the leader of a fiery progressive rock instrumental trio. During the last five years her musical vistas have broadened considerably, with highlights including adventurous and sometimes intricately arranged collaborations with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Her latest album, Weejuns, again finds Mollestad leading a trio, except this guitar/keyboards/drums three-piece evokes early Soft Machine and Bitches Brew-era Miles. The lengthy and (I’m assuming) highly improvised live performances avoid tedium due to the deep level of communication between Mollestad, Ståle Storløkken (keys), and Ole Mofjell (drummer), who combine to create a consistent sense of drama. During the quiet passages there’s an undercurrent of tension that continues to simmer. One senses that, sooner or later, all hell will break loose, and when the eruption finally occurs Mollestad launches into solos so packed with power and passion that I’m reminded why she belongs among the upper echelon of guitarists. At times I hear shades of David Torn, Terje Rypdal, and John McLaughlin in her music, but she clearly has her own voice. If those artists appeal to you and you haven’t heard Mollestad, you should check out Weejuns.


By Jeff Wilson

This will take some explaining, but I can connect the dots between pawing through LPs at a headshop called Elysian Fields in Des Moines, Iowa, as a seventh grader, and becoming the Music Editor for The Absolute Sound. At that starting point—around 1970/71—Elysian Fields had more LPs than any other store in Des Moines. Staring at all the colorful covers was both tantalizing and frustrating. I had no idea who most of the artists were, because radio played only a fraction of what was current. To figure out what was going on, I realized that I needed to build a record collection—and as anyone who’s visited me since high school can testify, I succeeded. Record collecting was still in my blood when, starting in the late 1980s, the Cincinnati Public Library book sale suddenly had an Elysian Fields quantity of LPs from people who’d switched to CDs. That’s where I met fellow record hawk Mark Lehman, who preceded me as music editor of TAS. Mark introduced me to Jonathan Valin, whose 1993 detective novel The Music Lovers depicts the battles between record hawks at library sales. That the private eye in the book, Harry Stoner, would stumble upon a corpse or two while unraveling the mystery behind the disappearance of some rare Living Stereo platters made perfect sense to me. After all, record collecting is serious business. Mark knew my journalistic experience included concert reviews for The Cincinnati Enquirer and several long, sprawling feature articles in the online version of Crawdaddy. When he became TAS music editor in 2008, he contacted me about writing for the magazine. I came on board shortly after the latest set of obituaries had been written for vinyl—and, as fate had it, right when the LP started to make yet another unexpected comeback. Suddenly, I found myself scrambling to document all the record companies pressing vinyl. Small outfits were popping up world-wide, and many were audiophile-oriented, plus already existing record companies began embracing the format again. Trying to keep track of everything made me feel, again, like that overwhelmed seventh grader in Elysian Fields, and as Music Editor I’ve found that keeping my finger on the pulse of the music world also requires considerable detective work. I’ve never had a favorite genre, but when it comes time to sit down and do some quality listening, for me nothing beats a well-recorded small-group jazz recording on vinyl. If a stereo can give me warmth and intimacy, tonal accuracy, clear imaging, crisp-sounding cymbals, and deep, woody-sounding bass, then I’m a happy camper.

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