jon larsen - staffan william-olssen

Norwegian guitarist, composer, painter and surrealist Jon Larsen has produced a number of albums with various ex-Zappa bandmembers.
The fist one was called "Strange News From Mars" and got recorded in L.A. at Arthur Barrow's Mar Vista studio.
A follow-up album got released in 2008: "The Jimmy Carl Black Story".
In 2011, Jon Larsen released "Willie Nicerson's Egg", a project with Tommy Mars.

Larsen also is the man behind the Hot Club de Norvège ensemble. They have released over 25 albums to date.

In 2010, Bjørn Ola Bjørntoft and Lars A. Hellebust made a documentary entitled "Jon and Jimmy", about the friendship and the collaboration between Jimmy Rosenberg (the Hendrix of Gypsy Jazz) and jazz guitarist Jon Larsen. The documentary got released on DVD in February 2010, and got broadcast on dutch television on May 24, 2011.

In 2012 the Jon Larsen & Staffan William-Olssen Trio (with Jo Skaansar on bass) started doing "Django-goes-mainstream" concerts, not only performing the music of Django Rheinhardt, but also including Frank Zappa pieces.


  jon larsen: strange news from mars
    (2007, cd, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2001) - feat.various ex-zappa bandmembers

  jon larsen: strange news from mars - the session with jimmy carl black
    (2007, cdr-promo, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2002) - feat.jimmy carl black & tommy mars

jlarsen_jcblack_session.jpg (20712 bytes)

  jon larsen: strange news from mars - the unabbreviated session with jimmy carl black
    (2007, download, norway, hot club records hcrcd217)
- feat.jimmy carl black & tommy mars

  jon larsen: the jimmy carl black story
    (2008, 2cd, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2003/2004) - feat.jimmy carl black & tommy mars


the mar vista philharmonic: no forest fire
    (2009, cd, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2005) - feat. t.mars, w.fowler, b.fowler, k.mcgettrick, a.barrow, v.colaiuta

marvista_noforestfire.jpg (24335 bytes)

  jon larsen: a portrait of jon larsen
    (2010, cd, norway, zonic entertainment)
= compilation / feat. jimmy carl black; rommy mars and bruce fowler

hcrcd_224.jpg (19611 bytes)

  various artists: 21 burnt weeny sandwiches
    (2010, cd, uk, cordelia records) - all compositions by frank zappa

  jon larsen / tommy mars: willie nickerson's egg
    (2011, download, norway, hot club records / zonic entertainment zen 2006)
(= the english version)
larsen_mars_willienickersonsegg.jpg (9858 bytes)
  don preston: colliding galaxys
    (2010, download, -, zonic entertainment zen 2007) - download only

donpreston_collidinggalaxys_c.jpg (11917 bytes)

  bunk gardner: the bunk gardner story
    (2011, download, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2008) - feat. don preston, arthur barrow

zen2008_bunkgardnerstory_f.jpg (14025 bytes)

  bunk gardner: the bunk gardner story - part 2
    (2011, download, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2009) - feat. don preston, arthur barrow / artwork by ed seeman

bunkgardner_story2.jpg (31339 bytes)

  don preston: the don preston story
    (2012, download, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2010) - feat. bunk gardner, arthur barrow / artwork by ed seeman

thedonprestonstory_cd.jpg (136920 bytes)

  jon larsen / terje stromdahl: willie nickersons egg
    (2013, cd, norway, zonic entertainment zen 2011) - feat. tommy mars, arthur barrow, jimmy carl black / artwork by cal schenkel  (= the norwegian version) / includes frank zappa theme



2012/05/12 the Jon Larsen / Staffan William-Olssen Trio- concert "Anjazz Festsival" 




random notes
Norwegian guitarist, composer, painter and surrealist Jon Larsen has recorded a concept album with some of the musicians from Frank Zappa's famed band The Mothers of Invention. Strange News from Mars tells the story of the spacecraft Big Ear III's voyage to the red planet.

Underway captain Zurcon and his crew are about to solve three of the greatest mysteries to mankind. Only hearing the record itself will reveal what these are, but needless to say, extra terrestrial intelligence is a key here.

The album is written, arranged and produced by Jon Larsen in its entirety. It was recorded in Los Angeles in March with Tommy Mars, Bruce Fowler, Jimmy Carl Black and Arthur Barrow. Strange News also features musical stunts from Norwegian musical dignitaries such as Knut Reiersrud, (guitar / harmonica), Rob Waring (marimba), Ole Morten Vågan (bass), and Håkon Mjåset Johansen (drums).

Zappa's old musicians were so taken by the project and the sessions that they immediately requested a sophomore. And now the plan as to make it a trilogy! Tours are already in the planning.

Jon Larsen is best known perhaps from his legendary Django-ensemble Hot Club de Norvège, which he founded way back in 1979. The band has had an astonishing success in Norway and worldwide, releasing 25 albums and collaborating, across genres, with elite musicians and all kinds of ensembles and orchestras.

Larsen is a guitarist, composer and painter. Painting was his first vocation, and from studying Dali and surrealism in the late 70s he eventually started infusing much of that spirit into music, especially when he took up composing in the nineties. In his blog he explains that: "Discovering the short way between improvisation, which I've been doing all my life, and composition, was also a discovery of what had really been going on in the Zappa universe to which I was always so drawn. Understanding more how that remarkable sphere functioned co- determined my take on composition, and the freshness and enthusiasm I feel towards composing now is based on that same kind of attitude."

What joyous luck then that Zappa's old crew, the individual members of which Larsen always so admired, should approach him with a desire to play on his Mars concept. For this is what happened when Larsen went over to LA to start the sessions; they heard of the project and wanted to play.

"Surrealism" is a key word for Larsen, as it was for Zappa himself, and even if the compositions are all Larsen's, there is no doubt that the spirit of Zappa infuses the album. This is evident in the air of the compositions, but most of all it is the presence of The Mothers of Invention which Larsen eventually gave key roles in the conceptual make up of the record.

Strange News from Mars will be the first release of the new label Zonic Entertainment.

2008 09 22



  • Jon LARSEN guitar/Martian

  • Jimmy Carl BLACK vocal/percussion

  • Knut REIERSRUD guitar/harmonica

  • Ola KVERNBERG violin

  • Rob WARING marimba

  • Ole Morten VÅGAN/Nikolai EILERTSEN bass

  • Andreas BYE/Håkon MJÅSET JOHANSEN drums

  • Special guest: Tommy MARS keyboards


Last year some of FRANK ZAPPA's (1940-1993) talented alumni met guitarist/composer Jon Larsen in Arthur Barrow's Lotek recording studio in LA. Together they recorded the amazing CD STRANGE NEWS FROM MARS. Here's the new chapter in the story - THE JIMMY CARL BLACK STORY.

THE JIMMY CARL BLACK STORY is double: CD one is "The Rockumentary" - an 80 minutes documentary about the "Indian of the group", where the old, native American (Cheyenne) tells his life story. We hear about the start at the reservation, via The Soul Giants, Frank Zappa, The Mothers of Invention, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, mafia connections, and years of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, but also moving stories from a long, and unusual life in music. Jimmy Carl Black is the born storyteller. Does humour belong is music? Listen for yourself.

The other CD is "The surrealistic Space Odyssey" - one hour of music inspired by Jimmy Carl Black's life story. The music is groove based R&B, laidback spacerock, and zappaesque jazz/rock, and even with  some glimpses of Django. Here is also the 20 minutes adventure of Capt. Zurcon and his crew onboard the Spaceship BigEar III, on their way to the red planet Mars, and their problems with the sexually frustrated Martian (the Guacamole Queen), the mutant fromage, and a lurking whale (depicted on the cover, enclosed).

Jimmy Carl Black is legendary not only for his drumming, but also known as one of the greatest absurdists in rock, starting with his film debut together with Ringo Starr in Zappa's 200 Motels. This is evident on the very last track on the CD, recorded in April this year, with the Indian of the group, reduced by the intensive cancer treatment, on the phone directly from his hospital bed!

On The surrealistic Space Odyssey CD you'll also hear marvelous soli by jazz musicians Knut Reiersrud (guitar/harmonica), Ola Kvernberg (violin - like you've never heard it before), Rob Waring (marimba), Jon Larsen (guitar) and Tommy Mars (keyboards).

THE JIMMY CARL BLACK CD is not an ordinary CD. The music, the adventure and the long documentary is a part of the conceptual continuity, and tell a different story - THE JIMMY CARL BLACK STORY.






frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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