Copyright © 2003
Magnolia Jazzband
John Falwell


Magnolia Jazzband (MJB) was started in 1972 by the trombone player Gunnar Gotaas. Magnolia is one of few bands playing New Orleans Revival Jazz, a style named after being discovered by music researchers/scholars in the 1940s, which then gained widespread popularity and flourished once again. This music style binds traditional jazz music with rhythm and blues. The New Orleans musicians have always freely combined the musical genre/manners, and this is one of the core elements in the development of jazz. In the churches the gospel rhythms would swing, and brass bands played rhythmic music for funerals and parades. Combined with elements from blues and ragtime the New Orleans jazz developed with its special beat. Many known musicians (amongst them King Oliver and Louis Armstrong) emigrated from New Orleans around 1920, but those who stayed behind in the home town also kept a special style, for instance Percy Humphrey, “Kid” Thomas and “Sweet” Emma Barret.

Even today one still finds a musical and cultural diversity in New Orleans, and Magnolia Jazzband is a worthy representative for the this music style. MJB has been characterized as one of the most authentic Norwegian jazz bands, a band striving to play this genuine New Orleans jazz rooted in blues and gospel.

The musicians in MJB have since 1977 made pilgrimages to New Orleans, and several of their records have been recorded there. Up until now the band has released 11 records, see Recordings.

What is a magnolia?

The musicians

Gunnar Gotaas
Born in 1944. Plays the trombone. He founded Magnolia Jazzband in 1972 and has since managed/directed the band. He has since 1960 played in a series/range/number of New Orleans bands in Norway, Denmark, Germany and Sweden. For a long time he worked as en engineer specialized in HVC.

Georg Michael Reiss
Born in 1956. Plays the clarinet and the saxophone. He is educated at the Norwegian School of Music. Has been a member of MJB since 1981. He has amongst others played with Ytre Suløens jazz ensemble and has several times been on tour with Rikskonsertene. For the time being he also playes in Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra, Streif, Gjertruds Sigøynerorkester, Majkens Swing Society and has duo performances with Morten Gunnar Larsen. By profession he is a freelance musician and lives both in Oslo and the Finnskogen.

Arild Holm
Born in 1944. Plays the banjo and has played with MJB for shorter and longer periods since the band was started in 1972. He has also toured with Lillian Boutté Music Friends for 3 years. He lives in Copenhagen and plays in several traditional Danish jazz bands. By profession he is a graphical designer.

Anders Bjørnstad
Born in 1947. Plays the trumpet. Has played jazz since the early 1960s with several leading Norwegian bands. He has been with MJB since 1947. For several years he was also part of Christiania Jazzband. Today he is also a central member of the big band type orchestra Christiania 12. He lives in Drammen.

Håkon Gjesvik
Born in 1961 in Oslo. Plays the piano. Was a regular substitute for MJB since 1990 and became a regular member in 1993. He is one of the funding members of Caledonia Jazzband (1982 - ), where he still plays piano and accordion. He has an all-round academic education (including history of religion and Chinese form the University of Oslo and business economy from BI. From 1986 until 1995 he worked for Musikkdistribusjon AS. Today he is general manager for Musikkoperatørene AS, which distributes records to all over the world.

Torstein Ellingsen
Born in 1966 in Oslo. Plays the drums. Has played with MJB since 1999. Playes also with The Sinatra Songbook and Majkens Swing Society. He has earlier played Caledonia Jazzband (1982-99), The Real Thing (1995-98) and Sandvika Storband (1998-99). He has also co-operated with Øystein Sunde. Torstein has a master of political science from the University of Oslo (1994). He has worked as an information advisor for Rikskonsertene and writes for the journal Jazznytt.

Børre Frydenlund
Born in 1950 in Bærum. Børre Frydenlund plays banjo and sings. He had his jazz debut in 1974 with Canal Street Jazzband. He has played in various traditional jazz bands, like Christiania Jazzband / Christiania 12, Norske Rytmekonger (Norwegian Rhythm Kings), Odeon Jazz Quintet, and more. Ha has been a substitute for Magnolia Jazzband since the early 1990s, and became a regular member spring 2011. He also plays cornet and guitar.

Sebastian Haugen-Markussen
Will be updated...

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Associated musicians

Morten Gunnar Larsen
Born in 1955 in Oslo. Plays the piano. He is educated at Norwegian School of Music. He played with MJB in 1975-93. He is part of Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra (founder and manager/director). He has made several solo-albums. He played the show "One Mo' Time" for two years while living in New Orleans. He has also played with New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra. Together with Vernel Bagneris he had a big sucess in 1993 in New York with the show "Jelly Roll Morton; A Memorial".

Øistein Isachsen Born in 1946 in Oslo. Plays the clarinett. Is educated in classical music. He has played with MJB for shorter and longer periods. He started playing in the early 1960s with amongst others Gunnar Gotaas. He has been working as an engineer. Today he is a freelance musician and a music teacher. He directs the quartet Odeon.

Johnnie Harper
Born in 1944. Plays the banjo. Has played with MJB from 1984 until the 1990s. Johnnie is Scottish and has worked with several musicians and bands in Europe, for instance four years with Sammy Rimington. He also plays in Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra.


Lillian Boutté

Lillian Boutté is born and raised in New Orleans. From an early age she was a member of the gospel choir "Golden Voices" in the local parish. Here she developed her vocal taltent. Today she is as experienced in gospel as jazz and rhythm and blues. She met members of MJB while being a regular singer, dancer and actor in the show "One Mo' Time". Her biggest success with MJB was a church concert in Molde during the Molde Jazzfestival in 1981. She has amongst other appeared on the American TV-show "Saturday Night Live". Lillian now lives in Hamburg.

Topsy Chapman
For its 20 years anniversary Magnolia Jazzband chose to hold a concert with the vocalist, actor, component and organizer Topsy Chapman. She was discoverd by the local baptistchurch and moved to New Orleans at the age of 18 years old, where she has worked and lived since. Topsy Chapman has visited Norge og Magnolia Jazzband several times the last 15 years, and she has also carried out a toure with the band in Singapore.

Aline White
Born in 1913 in New Orleans. She started to sing gospel at the age of nine years old and she has been a member of the St. John Institutional Missionary Baptist Church for 60 years. Aline White has performed several places in USA and Europe, and she has been to Norway several times the last 10 years.

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Magnolia – our most beautiful garden tree?

Magnolia is a generic name both in Norwegian and Latin. Magnolia has the name after the French botanic Pierre Magnol (1638-1715) who worked in the botanical garden of Montpellier. The stock of Magnolia has more then 80 species.  Their homeplace is in South- and East-Asia,  Himalaya, Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Venezuela, East- og North-Amerika. Around/about 50 of the species are tropical. Since most of these demand a better climate than the Norwegian, many of them have not been cultivated in Norway.

In the tertiary era, the natural order of Magnolia was spread out all over the north hemisphere. Remnants of Magnolia possibly exists on Spitsbergen. Magnolia can be found in 100 million years old fossiles. Since then the development has stagnated, and there are still many primitive signs in this natural order.

When a herb or plant has been used in medicine or has been of religious importance, one can study the history of cultivating it. Both in America and Asia the Magnolia was used in local herb medicine because of its aromatic, stimulating and strengthening qualities.

The Magnolia prosper late spring or early summer. In areas where the climate is mild, some of the species have wintergreen leaves. The flower of the Magnolia is sometimes similar to a tulip tree. Therefore the Magnolia is often erroneously named Tulip tree. These are two different orders, especially the leaves have a distinct appearance/look.

The flowers are big, with a cross section up to 25 cm. They have  the shape of a star or a cup, they may resemble water lilies, and they sit one by one at the end of the branch. They consist of up to 33 petal, in three or more spirals. The flowers are white, pink, purple or yellow. They most often smell nice. The fruit has the shape of a cylinder or a cone, they are juicy with strong(??) colors, most often red. These fruit very seldom mature in Norway. The tree can grow up to 30 meters tall, but the Magnolia is also found as two meter tall bushes. In all cases, the vekstform(??) is airy and gracious.

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