Magnus Wiik – banjo, dobro, mandolin, guitar, fiddle, vocals
Espen Bjarnar – guitar, mandolin, vocals
Aksel Jensen – bass, vocals
Open String Department has been described as a highly original outfit of the nordic modern jazz scene. As many of the leading voices on the scene today, the trio originated in the renowned jazz conservatory in Trondheim. What makes Open String Department stand out is combining that world of improvisational interplay with bluegrass and Americana-aesthetics. Having been the back bone of bluegrass band Julie & The New Favorites for many years, the band has honed their chops within bluegrass as well as jazz, giving them a solid framework of influences to draw upon.
The trio has three critically acclaimed albums under their belt, Fringe Music (2014), Americanarchy (2020) and All In (2023). They have played all over Europe as well as Japan and played several of the major festivals in Norway. Having worked together in various constellations since 2007, they have an immediate sense of interplay and are very attuned to each others musicianship.
The trio has been fortunate to collaborate with some amazing musicians and artists; amongst others Stian Carstensen, Ola Kvernberg, Siri Gjære, Meade Richter and Selma French, and currently have active projects as a quartet with singer and flute player Siril Malmedal Hauge and as a quartet with violinist and multi-instrumentalist Inger Hannisdal.
Lira: The trio challenges and breaks boundaries to create something new and unique. Very elegant!
Songlines: Whip smart, virtuosic album of improvised americana, unusually original.
Salt Peanuts: All the way through, this is a lovely and markedly «un Norwegian» recording that excites from three brilliant musician with a joint singular vision for where they want to take the music.
Mono Magazine: Open String Department has for sure managed to do the trick again. Maybe even better than the first time, and for sure with as much excitement. I state that the best American music is not made by Americans.