11 Songs, 51 Minutes

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About Olga Konkova & Jens Thoresen

Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, and based in Oslo, Norway, Olga Konkova is an acoustic post-bop pianist/composer whose influences range from Herbie Hancock and John Lewis to Bill Evans, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett. Konkova, who favors a very clean and crystalline style of pianism, is also comparable to Ahmad Jamal and the underrated Walter Norris. Like Norris, Konkova is known for taking major liberties with familiar melodies -- while other jazz musicians don't really start to improvise until after they play the melody/theme (or "head," in jazz terminology), Konkova starts to seriously improvise the minute her fingers touch the keyboard. Consequently, she can make even the most familiar standards sound fresh.

Konkova, who started taking piano lessons at the age of seven, wasn't always a full-time jazz musician; growing up in Moscow, she played mostly classical piano. Konkova studied classical piano and composition at the Russian Academy of Music, graduating in 1993. But not long after that, she moved to Boston to study jazz for two semesters at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Then, in the mid-'90s, Konkova left the U.S. and moved to Oslo (where she married Norwegian bassist Per Mathisen, the brother of saxophonist Ole Mathisen). In 1996, Konkova made her recorded debut as leader with the trio effort, Going With the Flow, featuring bassist Carl Morten Iversen and drummer Audun Kleive. She then delivered a handful of well-regarded releases for the British Candid label, including 1997's Her Point of View, and 2001's Some Things from Home.

Unbound, a duet album with husband Mathisen followed in 2006. Three years later, she released Improvisational: Four, which featured solo piano performances inspired by the work of Joni Mitchell. The pianist next signed with Norway's Losen Records, issuing the expansive solo session Journey Home in 2011. She then paired with vocalist Wenche Losnegård for the lyrical My Voice: Music for Piano, Vocal & Percussion, followed by the 2015 trio date The Goldilocks Zone with Mathisen, and drummer Gary Husband. In 2017, Konkova collaborated with guitarist Jens Thoresen on the atmospheric, holiday-themed album December Songs. A year later, she reunited with Thoresen for the similarly-inventive standards album Old Songs. ~ Alex Henderson

HOMETOWN
Moscow, Russia
GENRE
Jazz
BORN
August 25, 1969

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