Born: May 14, 1964 Primary Instrument: Piano
Pianist, singer and ukulele player Dr Bekken is a musician who is interested in the whole history of jazz. A lifelong dedication to the art of traditional blues driven piano has given him a mastery of that idiom which few players can grasp, much less deliver. He has a monster left hand which is the mandatory driving force for this type of piano playing, and his right hand soloing and clean technical dexterity present the whole package. At the same time, Bekken works within the field of modern, free improvisation, citing pianists like Don Pullen, Bobby Few and Charles Gayle as central sources of inspiration. Tor E 'Dr' Bekken was born in Drammen, Norway.He has played jazz and blues piano since childhood, and has absorbed all the nuances in the process. He completed a Master's degree in music in 1996, with a thesis on James Booker (shows in his approach) and New Orleans piano traditions. Bekken has worked for US artists such as Eddie Bo, Marva Wright, Benny Turner, Big Al Carson,etc. He has also performed with artists such as blues harmonica player James Harman, Nick Gravenites and Louisiana Red. He is currently working mainly as a solo performer on the club and festival scene in Norway and Europe. He occasionally performs with the DR BEKKEN TRIO, featuring drummer Dag Kittilsen and bassist Mattis Kleppen. In addition, Bekken teaches piano at the Trondheim School of Arts and Culture. Dr Bekken has released The Naked Blues(1995) Train - Stone Blues Piano, Vol.1(2001) Got Milk If You Want It(2003)The Ticklers(2004)Flood Street(2006)Hardcore Piano(2008), Songs From a Forest (2009) and the solo ukulele/vocal mp3-album JazzBluesRagtimeVaudeville (2011).
Dr Bekken is also an accomplished pianist for silent movies, improvising on-the-spot scores for films by Buster Keaton as well as German expressionist epics.
Bekken's latest release, SONGS FROM A FOREST, is a duet with harmonica wizard Richard Gjems, who plays all kinds of harmonicas - from dime store junk harps to silver-plated chromatic ones. The music was recorded in an old schoolhouse in the remote, rural area of Finnskogen in southeast Norway. Stylistically, it moves back and forth between blues, jazz and ancient Norwegian folk music.
Lately, Bekken has rediscovered the ukulele, and released a digital mp3-album featuring his ukulele and voice; JAZZBLUESRAGTIMEVAUDEVILLE (2011), available on iTunes and other web stores.
Check out the Youtube clip of Bekken performing in a piano duo with the late great New Orleans pianist Eddie Bo, recorded in Hell, Norway, Sept 5, 2008. This was Eddie Bo's last European appearance.
To see Bekken in a solo appearance, check out the Youtube clip of ST.PETE, recorded live at a jazz club in Drammen, Norway, March 2010 or the home recording of OLA's SONG (2010).
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Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Employed full time by the Trondheim School of Arts and Culture. Teaching piano to kids and youngsters.