Norwegian violinist Ola Kvernberg began classical studies as a six-year-old, but became strongly interested in jazz by the age of 16. He displayed an affinity for acoustic Continental jazz stylings prior to beginning jazz studies at the Trondheim Musikkonservatorium in 2001, collaborating (at age 18) with Hot Club de Norvège guitarist Jimmy Rosenberg. Kvernberg recorded and toured with the Hot Club for several years, and during his Musikkonservatorium years he also began issuing recordings under his own name, including an eponymous album on Hot Club Records in 2001 and the premiere album by the Ola Kvernberg Trio, 2002's Cats & Doug, also released by Hot Club. Upon completing his studies at the Musikkonservatorium, the violinist demonstrated his creative jazz diversity as a member of the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, and as the 2000s progressed he continued performing and recording with his trio, releasing the Jazzland label album Night Driver in 2006 and Folk in 2009. Kvernberg received his greatest acclaim to date for his multifaceted work Liarbird, commissioned by the 2010 Trondheim Jazzfest and Moldejazz and premiered with an ensemble including U.S. saxophonist Joshua Redman. The Jazzland recording of Liarbird won a 2011 Spellemannprisen (Norwegian Grammy) for Jazz Album of the Year.
Kvernberg is also no stranger to the rock side, having garnered positive notice for his playing on the 2012 opus The Death Defying Unicorn by longstanding Trondheim-based space-psych-prog band Motorpsycho and keyboardist Ståle Storløkken. Another student of the Trondheim Musikkonservatorium jazz program, Motorpsycho drummer Kenneth Kapstad, kept Kvernberg in mind when assembling the Kenneth Kapstad Group to perform at the Trondheim Jazzfest (also in 2010), and Kvernberg signed on along with keyboardist Erland Slettevoll, bassist Trond Frønes, and guitarist Even Helte Hermansen. Subsequently putting to rest the notion that this was a Kenneth Kapstad-led project, the quintet changed its name to Grand General prior to Rune Grammofon's release of the eponymously titled debut album Grand General in February 2013. With Kvernberg on board, Grand General (with composing duties split between Kvernberg and bassist Frønes) invited comparison to the Mahavishnu Orchestra featuring violinist Jerry Goodman, although this quintet was often thicker, heavier, and more pummeling -- fusion melded with metal, space rock, and prog. ~ Dave Lynch