April 10, 2024

Mean Steel
It is

About the release

Mean Steel is a tough band that plays tough music by tough composers from Northern Norway. The band’s name is also tough. If there exists a borderland between punk and contemporary music, Mean Steel is sitting on that very spot having an open-air picnic.

After the release of Zwei-Mann-Orchester in 2019 with only music by tough, male composers from Northern Norway, Mean Steel decided to seek out female composer who would dare to compose something that could be even tougher. They did not have to look far. Herborg Rundberg, Rakel Nystabakk, Tine Surel Lange and Agnes Ida Pettersen rose to the challenge without hesitation. The four composers were given free reins, but under one criterion: The music had to sound tough!

With an instrumentation of one cello, two baritone saxophones, one tenor saxophone, two drum kits, assorted percussion, and stones (!) one would believe that Mean Steel is a small orchestra? The truth is that everything is played by two musicians only: Hans-Urban Andersson and Ola Asdahl Rokkones. Thanks to a total aversion against realising their own musical limitations, and an ingrained fear of saying no to risk-seeking composers, they commit to an acrobatic and sometimes almost impossible juggling between multiple instruments separately and simultaneously. The result is naturally very tough.

Hans-Urban Andersson has been a full-time employee in the Music in Nordland ensemble in Nordland, until he retired in the autumn of 2023. He started his career in the Swedish dance band Curt Jürgens that frequently topped the Swedish music charts in the 70s. Through this he managed to save up enough money to buy a cello so that he could study at the Music Conservatory in Gothenburg, Sweden. Already by then he performed his first duet with saxophone and cello; with Stan Getz, the world-famous saxophone player, who was then visiting the jazz festival in Halmstad.

It would take nearly 40 years before Hans-Urban would again join a duo with saxophone and cello. This time with Ola Asdahl Rokkones on saxophones. Ola is an independent musician living in Tromsø and makes his living playing classical, jazz and folk music. At one moment he is playing a gig in a distant fjord, the next he is a soloist with a big symphony orchestra. In his spare time Ola likes to experiment in new ways to play the saxophone.

The album was recorded between 23rd and 28th of January 2023 in Store Studio in Bodø, with producer Are Bredahl Simonsen. Mastered by Martin Bowitz in Store Studio. Cover photo by Anders Karlskås, and cover art by Sverre Simonsen. Distribution by Musikkoperatørene and The Orchard. The album is supported by Norwegian Arts Council and Musikk i Nordland.


Ola Asdahl Rokkones - Tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, double saxophone, drums, percussion, stones, cello
Hans-Urban Andersson - Cello, baritone saxophone, drums, vocals


From frontpage


Norway at Jazzahead

Liv Andrea Hauge Trio, Hilde Louise Asbjørnsen Quartet, Oddgeir Berg trio and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra with Marianna Sangita Røe are the Norwegian artists in Jazzahead's official showcase program this year. Norsk Jazzforum and Music Norway will as usual be present at the trade fair area.