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The Hedvig Mollestad Trio: Jazz Sabbath

A jazz guitarist turned rock riff monster, Hedvig Mollestad refuses to turn down the volume.

The Hedvig Mollestad Trio are an eye-catching bunch on stage at the Royal Festival Hall to open up for John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension. The instrumentalists – guitarist Hedvig, bassist Ellen Brekken and drummer Ivar Bjørnstad – are all colour-coordinated, with their bandleader in a sparkly red cocktail dress and headband, looking like a flapper girl from the 1920s. But when they launch into the riff avalanche that is Laughing John, it becomes clear this is not some polite jazz ensemble- this is a gloriously overdriven power trio.

The group came out of the jazz programme at Norges musikkhøgskole, a prestigious Norwegian music college, but Hedvig, whose first guitar was her mom’s acoustic, was raised on rock every bit as much as jazz. “My father listened to a lot of jazz, but I didn’t play that much jazz when I first started,” she says. “Some of my parents’ friends gave me CDs with Jimi Hendrix and John Scofield and I listened to grunge a lot so it was a mix of many different musical styles and bands. I listen to everything from Richard Marx and Paul McCartney to Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix and Soundgarden. I just thought they all had great guitarists.”

Live at the Royal Festival Hall. Pic: Kevin Nixon

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