Norway’s jazz community has been paying tribute this past week to pianist and composer Egil Kapstad, who died on July 13 after what his family described as a brief illness. He was hailed for his contributions to music for more than 40 years.
Kapstad played with jazz greats including Toots Thielemans and Chet Baker. He was best known as a jazz pianist, composer and arranger but he also worked as a program leader for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) and played with his own trio in Norway’s preliminary to the Eurovision Song Contest, Melodi Grand Prix, in 1965.
Kapstad contributed to more than 60 recordings as a pianist, working with poet Jan Erik Vold and jazz singer Karin Krog among others. He composed music for countless theater plays, films and TV shows as well as writing several classic works for symphony orchestras and choirs. He also co-founded the Norsk Jazzforum with Krog and others.
It was his mellow jazz, however, that won wide appeal and Spellemanns prizes (Norway’s version of the Grammy) in both 1989 and 1994. His Remembrance CD was prophetic, since Kapstad will long be remembered himself.
He died just short of his 77th birthday and was laid to rest in a ceremony at the cathedral in Kristiansand last Thursday. He’s survived by his wife Hilde and two children. “Takk, Egil, your tones survive,” wrote Kjetil Bang-Hansen in a tribute late last week.