|Haakon Graf ; born march 21rst, 1955 Oslo, Norway.
The name Graf came with Haakon's german grandfather, who was settling down in Norway in the early 1920's.Both mother and fatherside had a strong and everyday musicactivity. The grandfather on the motherside, was an excellent violinist, who after playing for many years in The Oslo Philharmonics, settled as leader for <The Norwegian Folk Music Department> in NRK. ( The National Broadcasting )
Graf started out with classical pianostudies at the age of six..then seven years later, after hearing Jimmy Smith's B3 treatment, the young Graf was sold out. Skipping school to listen to organjazz in a downtown mall became a daily habit. Soon the thin & tall guy, who looked more like a 20-year old, was a houseguest in musicstores playing his ass off. Since painting & drawing was an equal interrest and entering an art-school was the plan, quitting school to work in a musicstore wasn't all popular to the familymembers who saw him more as an architect.Beeing close to organs, pianos and amplifiers, playing & talking to musicians who came by dayli was the most important. One day some longhaired heavyrockers heard him playing in the backroom, and asked him to join a well-organized group named RUPHUS. A year later the first LP album <New Born Day> was released on Polydor Records with mostly Graf-compositions.
Two LP's and countless tours later, the band made it big in Germany, but Graf had already heard
Weather Report, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters and other jazzoriented contemporary groups...
..new horizons had to be explored.
A meetingpoint in Oslo was the famous Club7, where rehearsals took place, a theater community,
library,cafe' and clubdates with jazz musicians from all over the world appeared weekly.
Soon Graf played as session-musician with countless groups, formed his own band in1976 with swedish bassist Matz Nilsson; <Hawk On Flight> Guitarist Ulf Wakenius and Niels Nordin; drums,joined. Graf & drummer Jon Christensen did both a quintet project called Blow Out, and a duothing called Hideaway. After touring with ECM guitarist Terje Rypdal in 1978, Jan Garbarek called to book Graf for a 3 week performance at the Henie-Onstad Art Center outside Oslo. The trio followed up with festivals and clubdates pluss a tour in the Soviet Union 1979.
The norwegian jazzfestivals Molde & Kongsberg were a regular routine every year, TV, studiowork,
sessions with visiting musicians like Miroslav Vitous, Jack De Johnette, Michael Urbaniak & Ursula
Dudziak took place.
Then in the beginning of the -80's, the Club7 concept fell apart due to increased rent and change of culturepolicy in Oslo. Graf ended up as a sub in a local jazzclub called Hot House after returning from a trip to Brasil in -83. New influences and musicians created a sound and athmosphere that filled up the Club, and Graf was offered to manage it and play 3 to 5 days pr week. He did for 3 years, then was called by Airto & Flora for a tour in the european jazzfestival season; North Sea Festival in Netherlands -89. Montreaux Jazzfestival later in 1992 with a trioconcept.
This was the time where Graf heard Dennis Chambers and Gary Grainger playing with John Scofield.
The two Baltimore fella's also heard Graf, and the connection was made.
Going back and forth to Los Angeles since 1985, Graf explored the US-scene, and was invited to play with Dennis Chambers at the Buddy Rich Memorial Scolarship Concert in Boston 1993.
Later The Modern Drummer Weekend in New Jersey took place, leaving awsome rewiews in the magazine after the band Grafitti closing a 3 day event with all the heavyweights in the world of drumming.
The work with Chambers & Grainger came as a nutural interrest and caused by common musical playgrounds; -a combination of jazz, funk & grooveoriented interplay and beeing skilled technically.
The Keyboardmagzine says; " Graf is an intelligent and spirited player, who rather than exhaust the listener with non-stop flash, builds his solos from beginning to end, and keeps the listeners interrested !"
Touring the USA was a deserved treat for the foursome, who had to scedule their plans in between everybodys buzy scedule. After been through the 7.3 earthquake in LA for starters, the group played Catalina's in LA for a crowded week. Everybody came out to hear the fresh combination, and people like
George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Sheila E, who also gave a blistering performance playing <A Night In Tunisia> as an uptempo salsaversion...Prince ( former known as...) enjoyed himself, Keith Emerson, Brian Auger, Carl Palmer, the hornsection from Zappa's band...all innovating people Graf had only seen and heard on LP's done "back in the days".
A week later at Kimballs East in San Fransisco, the Tower of Power family, Narada Michael Walden,
and other Bay Area personalities, showered the band with applause and headshakings; " It's Your turn now...!" -said Walden..The Headhunters drummer James Levi also sat in on Graf's tune "Thrustin"
wich is written as a reminder of the creative and innovating area with Hancocks Headhunter band.
Japan was visited in 1993 by Graf, who had been invited to join bassist Paul Jackson the groovemaster
from Headhunters, in a highschool performance initiated by Jackson called "Jazz For Kids"
A great historical musicplay, using multimedia gear like video, dance and traditional entrance to the african-american history of music & culture.
Living in Brasil in 1988-89 did also leave some marks; -just some months ago Graf was called up by a friend in Rio who had been at the opening of Mistura Fina Club where Graf's tunes was played by the featuring band. Arthur Maia, bassplayer with Djavan, Ivan Lins and Milton Nascimento invited Graf to play on his soloalbum released in 1989 He has his own group called <Cama de Gato><
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