People around Silje
in her musical carreer
Silje has an unorthodox way of harmonizing her melodies, that makes them very special.
Georg Wadenius has been a professional guitarist, composer, arranger and producer since 1968. He first became known in his native country Sweden. In the beginning of the 70s he went to the United States to work with Blood, Sweat and Tears for almost 4 years. He focused more on being a studio musician in New York from the end of the 70s throughout the 80s playing on records by lots of musicians like Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin and the Backstreet Boys. He toured with Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross, Simon and Garfunkel, Steely Dan and, for 6 years, with the Saturday Night Live band. Now he lives in Oslo, Norway, where he splits his time between various productions and live projects.
When asked he immediately answered he would very much like to contribute to this website responding to questions about his cooperation with Silje.
"I first met Silje a couple of years before we recorded "Port of Call". She had some newly written material, that we tried to find arrangements on. The tunes were not previously recorded, and some would later appear on later records (for instance: Borrowing Moons). She already had the wonderful recording of "Lullaby to Erle" with Nils-Einar's playing.
We tried to record a few songs in more of a "pop" direction. It didn't work out so well for many reasons. Partly because that particular band was not right for the tunes, even though they were some of Norway's best and most used musicians, amoung them Anders Engen (drums) and Audun Erlien (bass). I do want to emphasize, that I do not in any way fault them for the recordings not turning out so great. We were still searching for a direction and we hadn't found it yet. And partly this pop direction didn't work out because I was not used to working in Norway (having spent my previous 20-25 years in the USA), where producers generally have not taken so much charge of the process."
Small private paper joining a recording of three songs Wadenius produced in August 1998
After these pop trials, the focus came on a more jazzy style: "It started, of course, with Silje always having had a great fondness for the standard jazz repertoire. It developed through her meeting Tord Gustavsen and playing some gigs with him, centered around that standard material. This is also why "Port of call" only has three of her original compositions. Most of the material on that album are standards."
Specifying the characteristics that are typical for Silje’s music Georg Wadenius continuous: "I think she is a unique force in music. She has an unorthodox way of harmonizing her melodies, that makes them very special. Sometimes the tunes are quite simple, but the frame of a jazz trio gives them a different dimension. I do think that Tord Gustavsen's piano playing and musical instincts were important in forming the direction that Silje's music took, when we started working together.
Through her working with Tord, who was instrumental in forming the back-up trio with Jarle and Harald, a sound emerged: Silje's unique musicality, which comes through in her writing and singing, accompanied by a jazz trio, with Tord as the dominant voice. In order to make the albums more varied, we would add some horns and strings, and occasionally the guitar would play a more dominant role in the rhythm section, but the clear basis for the backgrounds was the piano trio."
"I have, apart from being responsible for the budgets, helped Silje when it comes to some of the structures of the songs, and also picked (with her) which songs we would focus on for the project at hand. I have also been deeply involved in every aspect of the arrangements of the songs, both for the rhythm section and the horn and string arrangements, deciding instrumentation on each song, who plays a solo, about how long it should be. I have also had a lot of input with the mixing and order of songs on the three albums, that I produced. All this has been done in close communication with Silje."
Asking for anecdotes he goes on: "I don't remember specific anecdotes, but there was one particular occasion, where Magnus Lindgren had written out a solo for all the string players of the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra. They were reading it and playing it well in rehearsal, when I came up with the idea, that they should all stand up when they played it (since it was their feature). They did, with hugh smiles, at the concert, and the audience went wild, because they had never seen that before."
Georg Wadenius and Silje played together just a couple of times, like the concert with the Radio Symphony Orchestra (Kringskastingsorkesteret) from Oslo in January 2001. "As I can recall, I played with her and the Radio Symphony Orchestra on one other occasion (at the jazz festival in Kongsberg), and I might have sat in another time, but that would be all."
"Both Silje and I felt that we each needed to move on to something else after the very close and intense cooperation that we had. I was extremely happy to hear her latest album, which I felt showed artistic growth and a more mature Silje at the same time that it was beautifully produced by Pål Svenre."
Georg Wadenius, November 2007.