Norwegian trumpet player Arve Henriksen (b. 1968) is a fascinating and multi-faceted musician who initially studied formal jazz. But since the 1990s, he has moved away from traditional formations to explore different approaches to sound and improvisation. A founding member of avant-garde trio Supersilent, the trumpet player has been thriving on non-rehearsed “free improvised” and electronic music since 1997. As a solo artist, Arve Henriksen’s unique sound on the trumpet is mainly informed by his discovery of the Japanese Shakuhachi flute in the late 1980s which led him to collect recordings of the instrument.
“I let the music ‘ring’ and develop in my head. I was astonished by the sound of this flute [and] its meditative and minimalistic expressive quality. This has made me work with tone and sound making in a new direction.” Arve Henriksen
In 2001, Arve Henriksen infused his first solo recording (Sakuteki) with the same minimalist Zen aesthetics that is usually associated with Japanese art. In the meantime, the musician had also been working on and developing his own wordless singing style inspired by Norwegian traditional folk singing, Italian arias and Eastern music. All these influences coalesce beautifully in Chiaroscuro (2004), his second solo recording for the Norwegian Rune Grammofon label. Chiaroscuro (or clair-obscur) describes the use of extreme contrast between light and shade in painting, photography, cinema but also in singing (brightness and depth).
In a track like “Opening Image”, Arve Henriksen matches the pitch of his instrument with that of his singing to a point where trumpet and voice are barely discernible from one another. The addition of Jan Bang’s live sampling simply generates an otherworldly and deeply emotional sound.
This is music that entirely bypasses the intellect and goes straight to the soul. John Kelman