Known for his expressive, flowing melodies and versatility, master pianist Jan Gunnar Hoff is one of Norway’s most prominent and esteemed jazz artists today. Wearing a multitude of different hats as a jazz-fusion pianist, synth player, composer, arranger, and educator, the musician forges ahead, leaving a nuanced mark upon each of his modern fusions and improvisations, from his solo work to his various collaborations.
Jan Gunnar Hoff stands at a point of intersection between his classical music background and the genres of jazz, folk, funk, and rock. With an interest in music since a young age and receiving instruction in classical piano starting at the age of 10, the artist spent most of his teenage years embroiled in progressive rock, listening to bands like Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, YES and FOCUS. Hoff´s main goal has always been to maximize his own potential and get the most out of what is in him, Hoff embarked on his jazz career in the 1970’s after completing his education.
Following his concert debut at the Ad Lib Jazz Club in his hometown of Bodø in 1976, Hoff spent the earlier part of his career on tour with names like Arild Andersen and Nils Petter Molvaer. Subsequently, he proceeded by releasing his debut album Syklus, comprised of his own solo works, in 1993. Also working as an educator since 1975, Hoff currently continues to teach at the Universities of Tromsø and Agder, sharing that he considers himself lucky to be able to work with the next generation of Norway’s jazz musicians and that his young students keep him sharp.
(Akbank Sanat, Istanbul, Leyla Aksu)
Facts about Jan Gunnar Hoff:
- Steinway Artist
- 23 albums, 250 works
- Jan Gunnar Hoff Group established in 1993, still active (2022).
- Collaborations with Alex Acuna, Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Maria Joao.
- Concerts in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Zagreb, Milano, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Havana, Riga, Naples, Caen, Hamburg, Stuttgart and other major cities.
- Edvard-prize as a composer from TONO 2004 for his jazz mass Meditatus.
- Norwegian Buddy-award 2013, the highest distinction in Norwegian jazz
- Artist in residence at Ingmar Bergman Estate 2014/2015
- Professor at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø¸ (UiT) and the University of Agder in Kristiansand (UiA)
- Arranger and musical director for Quiet winter night, nominated for US Grammy Awards 2013
- Nominated for Spellemannpris, Norwegian Grammy 2014, for the album Fly North (Henriksen, Mazur, Jormin, Hoff)
BIOGRAPHY WITH LINKS
Jan Gunnar Hoff was born in Bodø, 1958. He was educated at NTNU, Jazzdep in Trondheim 1986-89 and studied arranging and composing at NMH, Oslo 2001-2002. His career as a jazz musician started in 1976 with piano trio and as a backing musician for drummer Jon Christensen and other national jazz artists at local jazz club events. Hoff became a professional musician in 1979 and toured with Arild Andersen and Nils Petter Molvær in 1982. In 1987 Hoff participated in an all star Norwegian combo presenting Jan Garbarek’s commission for the Federation of Norwegian Jazz musicians, FNJ.
Hoff´s debut CD Syklus was recorded in 1992. The music was based on Hoff´s commission for the Arts Festival of North Norway, performed at a concert at the Harstad festival 1992. Since 1993 Hoff has worked as a bandleader presenting original compositions in a band consisting of some of Scandinavias leading musicians: Audun Kleive, Bjørn Kjellemyr, Tore Brunborg, Knut Riisnæs, Per Jørgensen. Albums: Moving (1995), Crosslands (1998), In town (2003). In 2007 Hoff released an album with his Edvard Prize (award) – winning jazz mass Meditatus, with the Bodø cathedral choir and his group. Other important band events include Hoff´s highly acclaimed Vossajazz-debut in 1995, Oris London Jazzfestival and Molde Int. Jazzfestival 1996 with EBU-TV broadcast to 12 European countries. At Moldejazz 2001 Hoff and his group did a successful collaboration with Pat Metheny. Excerpt “Extraditon” (Metheny) from NRK.
Hoff and his group toured Norway, Estonia and Ukraine with Mike Stern in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and this collaboration is still active. The first Stern/Hoff -album Magma was released in 2008. Hoff has also been working with percussionist Alex Acuna and bassplayer Per Mathisen in the trio Acuna/Hoff/ Mathisen. February 2010 Acuna, Hoff & Mathisen recorded a concert DVD at Drumchannel in Oxnard, California. The AHM-trio has released two albums: Jungle City and Barxeta. Mathisen and Hoff has continued their collaboration in other projects involving drummers like Horacio Hernandez, Gary Novak a.o.
Hoff has composed 250 works for different settings: chamber orchestra, sinfonietta, choir, duo, trio, in addition to compositions for his solo recordings. Hoff did the prestigous annual commission for Vossajazz 2005 Free flow songs and received an Edvard (Grieg) -prize for his jazzmazz Meditatus in 2006. Meditatus has been performed in Norway, Iceland, Canada, USA and recorded on CD in Norway and CD/DVD in Riga, Latvia. In 2009 Hoff gathered a star line up at the annual Nordland Music Festival: Alex Acuna, Per Mathisen, Frode Alnæs, Jarle Bernhoft and Mathias Eick, presenting Hoff´s commission Electric Blue. (Photo: Leif Inge Larssen, NRK)
Several duo constallations a.o with Maria Joao in Norway, Croatia and France 2008. Other collaborations include Norwegian artists like Unni Wilhelmsen, Terje Nilsen, Jan Eggum, Halvdan Sivertsen, Jørn Hoel. Worth mentioning is also the Harstad festival in Northern Norway 1995 where Hoff did a spontanous duo session with Chick Corea.
From 2008-2014 Hoff has performed and toured in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Croatia, Iceland, Austria, Italy, Sweden, USA, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Kirgisistan, Peru, England, Japan and Norway. Concerts in major cities such as New York, London, Stockholm, Zagreb, Los Angeles, Moscow, St.Petersburg, Tokyo, Istanbul, Vilnius.
In 2011 Hoff contributed as bandleader, arranger and pianist for the album Quiet winter night, later nominated for US Grammy Awards 2013 (Best surround sound album, Morten Lindberg, 2L). Hoff continued his collaboration with 2L on the solo piano album LIVING, released April 2013. Hoffs quartet-recording Fly North was released in January 2014, followed by the solo album Quiet light/Stille lys (2L December 2014). In January 2014 Hoff received the Buddy prize, the highest distinction in Norwegian jazz. May 2014 he was appointed as an official Steinway Artist and August 2014 he was Artist in residence at Ingmar Bergman Estate, Fårö (Sweden). In 2014, 2015 and 2016 Hoff performed solo in Japan and released two more albums: Stories, a solo piano album for 2L and Terra Nova,(Lawo 2017), a duo project with mezzo soprano Marianne Beate Kielland.
April 2018 Hoff´s trio album Polarity was released by 2L, receiving great reviews. In 2018, Hoff also released the albums: Mathisen/Hoff feat. Horacio Hernandez Barxeta II, and Jan Gunnar Hoff Group feat. Mike Stern. Continuing Hoff´s cooperation with bassplayer Per Mathisen, a new trio album feat US drummer Gary Novak was recorded late 2019. In 2020 Hoff has released several scores and books, a.o: Fly North – 52 Jazz compositions. He also did a commission for Helgeland sinfonietta, composing his work Vaapstenjeanoe (Big River), for string orchestra, jazz trio and soloist Arve Henriksen. A piano version of the main theme was presented in Steinway & Sons 2020- series: Lunch concerts.
Jan Gunnar Hoff works as a professor at the University of Tromsø and Agder. He has also been involved in several jazz festivals as a head and artistic leader, a.o. Bodø Jazz Open (2011-2020), a festival initiated by Hoff in 2010.
In November 2020, Jan Gunnar Hoff performed 2 solo concerts at the Oslo Opera, an event that marks a highlight in his career as a solo pianist. In addition to his own projects and solo concerts, Hoff is also performing frequently in Germany with Carsten Lindholm trio (Lindholm, Reggie Washington, JGH), and with Per Mathisen and related projects.
In 2021 Hoff released the album Gladiator with Per Mathisen and US drummer Gary Novak. He also published his book Quiet light (Stille Lys), a collection of piano arrangements of popular songs and Christmas melodies. In May 2022 Hoff released his solo piano album, HOME on the Norwegian label 2L, recorded and produced by 2021-Grammy winner Morten Lindberg.
- VAAPSTENJEANOE (Big River), commission for string orchestra, percussion and jazz trio, 2020
- New jazz compositions for album with Gary Novak, Per Mathisen, 2019
- Compositions for new album with Jan Gunnar Hoff Group & Mike Stern, 2018
- Commission for Marianne Beate Kielland 2016, texts by Hamsun, W.Blake and Hoff
- TERRA NOVA – work for SATB and jazz group
- HAMMARS SUITE – work for string orchestra and jazz trio
- LIVING – commission for Bodø Jazz Open 2012 w/Jormin, Henriksen, Mazur
- NORTH EAST/NORTH WEST, commission Smeltedigelen 2012 (Mo i Rana, Northern Norway)
- PICTURES -commission Nordland Musikkfestuke 2011
- ELECTRIC BLUE- commission Nordland Musikkfestuke 2009
- FOR INGENS ØYNE, commission Hamsundagene 2009
- AUBERGINE – commission Bodø Big Band 2007
- MAGMA for Nordland Musikkfestuke 2006 (feat. Mike Stern)
- FREE FLOW SONGS – Tingingsverket for Vossajazz 2005 (feat. Maria Joao)
- MEDITATUS a commission for Bodø Cathedral Choir 2004 (Edvard prize from TONO 2004)
- BLÅ SITRON – Piece for string quartet and jazz trio 2002
- ODEON’S DRØM – Bodø sinfonietta 2002
- WIND SEA AND RHYTHM – wind quintet, cello and jazz band 2001
- THIS PLACE – commission for Bodø Domkor, orchestra, soloists 1996
- STILLE LYS – commission for Bodø Domkor 1995
- OPP AV HAVET STIG EIT LAND – for Nordland Chamber Orchestra 1994
- FASER 1-4 suite i 4 movements for jazztrio and percussion, Arts Festival Harstad 1992
- NORTHERN LIGHTS – for piano, violin and acoustic bass 1992
Discography with other artists:
- Flying Norwegians: This Time Around (1979)
- June: E’ det sant?/Hvess æ… (1981)
- June: Det e’ nu æ lev (1981)
- ASA: Snu pulken (1983)
- Halvdan Sivertsen, Vibeke Sæther, Geir Børresen & Åsmund Huser: Labbetusseviser (1983)
- Arne Benonisen: Looking For Love (1983)
- Terje Nilsen: Pop (1983)
- Halvdan Sivertsen: Amerika (1985)
- Dag Kajander: Stormen: Eloise/Petit pictorial (1986)
- Sørpolnissen: Sørpolnissen (1987)
- Diverse: Visehjelp til Nordvest-Russland (1989)
- Diverse: Bodø-Glimt kassett -89 (1989)
- Torgils Gundersen: Røsslyng/Tilegnet himmelens og jordens skaper – La ditt rike komme (1990)
- Terje Nilsen: Kanskje (1992)
- Mathisens: Mathisens (1993)
- Diverse: Norske bilder – Sounds and Visions of Norway (1993)
- Diverse: Levende musikk til alle (1994)
- Pelle Politibil: Glade blålys (1995)
- Terje Nilsen: Sånn (1996)
- Blues Basement: Where the Eagle Flies – Unplugged (1996)
- Diverse: Jazz Out of Norway 2 (1996)
- Torgils Gundersen: Tellus. The Blue Album (1997)
- Diverse: NRK-opptak november 97 (1997)
- Blues Basement: Ten Years (1998)
- Skoleveiens venner: Skoleveien (2000)
- Tore Johansen: Man, Woman and Child (2000)
- Torgils Gundersen med venner: Kan du hør sirenan… (2001)
- Diverse: Distant Reports – Jazz From North Norway (2001)
- Torgils Gundersen: Lysbroen (2001)
- Jan Eggum: President (2002)
- Tore Johansen: Happy Days (2002)
- Dag Kajander: Lykkeland (2002)
- Eva Trones: Lille bille – Eva Trones synger barnesanger av Terje Nilsen (2003)
- Chillinuts: Reworks: What Kind of Machine Is This? (2004)
- Torgils Gundersen: Lånte fjær (2004)
- Jan Eggum: 30/30 (2005)
- Blues Basement: Blue Tales (2005)
- Terje Nohr: Så langt (2005)
- Alf Kjellman: June 1999 (2007)
- Bodø Domkor: Meditatus (2007)
- Diverse: Jazz From Norway 2010 – JazzCD.no 4th Set (2010)
- Tore Johansen: Natt, stille (2010)
- Tore Johansen: Nord (2011)
- Eva Trones: Tango for en (2011)
- Dag Kajander: The Glassblower’s Tune (2011)
- Halvdan Sivertsen: Gjør det så gjerne (2012)
- Diverse: Stille, stille vinternatt – Musikk fra Blåfjell (2012)
- Dr. Fish: Jeg bor i Lofoten (2013)
- Unni Wilhelmsen: Live with Bodø Rhythm Group featuring Bodø Sinfonietta (2013)
- Diverse: Jazz From Norway 2016 – JazzCD.no 7th Set (2016)
- Dag Kajander: Kaldvinds forunderlige reise (2016)
- Tore Johansen: Natt, Lys (2020)