For the better part of three decades, Väsen (“vessen”) has honed a singular sound rooted in Swedish folk music, but conceived by modern ears, which have heard rock, jazz and post-modern chamber music. Formed in 1989 by Olov Johansson, who plays the nyckelharpa (a “keyed fiddle”), violist Mikael Marin and guitarist Roger Tallroth, Väsen takes its name from a Swedish word with multiple meanings: spirit, noise, a living being or essence. The combination of unusual instrumental tunings and the rhythmic pulsing characteristic of traditional Swedish folk music imbues Väsen’s music with an irresistible, deeply spiritual quality. This is a “must attend” concert for world music fans.
The music of Kittel & Co. envelops a space containing elements of late modern classical, acoustic roots, Celtic, bluegrass and jazz. As a composer, arranger and accompanist, Brooklyn-based violinist Jeremy Kittel has worked with Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck, My Morning Jacket, Camera Obscura, Jars of Clay, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Laura Veirs and the Grammywinning Turtle Island Quartet of which he was a member for five years. He has also recorded with artists such as Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Mark O’Connor, Fleet Foxes and Mike Marshall. For the last several years, he has been composing a special repertoire for Kittel & Co. The band includes mandolinist Josh Pinkham, guitarist Quinn Bachand, bassist Ethan Jodziewicz and hammered-dulcimer innovator Simon Chrisman.
“[Kittel & Co.]…takes the string band tradition to marvelously rarefied levels of collective virtuosity…thrillingly spontaneous.”