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toroddfuglesteg View Drop Down
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    Posted: August 30 2011 at 14:46

SECRET OYSTER became somewhat of a super group when members of BURNIN'RED IVANHOE, CORONARIAS DANS and HURDY GURDY formed this unit. By the end of BURNIN' RED IVANHOE's career (that spawned seven years), Karsten Vogel started forming a new band taking along with him BRI's drummer Thrige and often jazz-partner bassist Vinding with him. Knowing from the Danish circuit guitarist Claus Bohling, he enticed him into the band that took its name from a track from BRI's second album Secret Oysters Service.

I got in touch with Karsten Vogel and here is the story of this band.


If I am not mistaken, Secret Oyster was/is almost a super group with ex members of Burnin Red Ivanhoe (yourself), Hurdy Gurdy and Coronarias Dans. When, why and how did all of you gather your talents together as Secret Oyster? Why did you choose that band name?

After the split up of Burnin Red Ivanhoe in February 1972 I intended to go on with an instrumental group based on what I’ve experienced with Burnin. Five musician, all with ability to improvise, all should be very skilled musicians and the three front figures should be capable of playing long, interesting solo’s.
The drummer from Burnin, Bo Thrige Andersen was my first obvious choice. Then I hoped for Mads Vinding on the bass and Claus Bøhling on guitar. Kenneth Knudsen I only knew a little about, but I was sure, he would be the right man on keyboard - but he until that had been playing only grand piano! Well, I called them on the phone, and they all said yes to my plans. Kenneth then had to get hold of a fender Rhodes which he did.
The band name I already had in mind. It came from the title of one track from the second Burnin album, Secret Oyster Service. But why+ Well - you can call it poetry!

How much of these three previous bands did you carry over to Secret Oyster?

All musical material was composed especially for Secret Oyster. I had some songs ready right from the beginning, Kenneth soon wrote some good stuff, and after a year or so also Claus began to contribute with some funky riff based songs.

You have so far released four albums if I am not mistaken. Please tell us more about......

Furtive Pearl from 1973

After a year doing gigs around places in Denmark CBS invited us to do an album. Mostly as a guinea pig, so they gave us two days in a two track (Revox) studio in Nibe, North in Jutland. It was recorded in a very creative atmosphere.

Sea Son from 1974

Furtive pearl (the Danish release was only called Secret Oyster) had good reviews and CBS wanted us to go further on with recordings. Sea Son also was created in a good atmosphere, many ideas came up, some good songs already had been on trial on some gigs. And we even got the possibility to have very fine musicians to do additional work. We had three days for recording, and three days for mixing and things.
If you are going to buy only one Secret Oyster album I’m still suggesting this.

Astarte / Vidunderlige Kælling from 1975

Astarte and Straight to the Krankenhaus were recorded over the same period of time.
Astarte is music composed and recorded to a ballet choreographed by famed Flemming Flindt.
The music was played back as an important part of the show, which became a great success, making a good profit also to the band. Part of the music is strictly programme music, but also the album has some genuine Oyster stuff.

Straight To The Krankenhaus from 1976

After four years with hard work the atmosphere in the band became a little tensed. This was a very ambitious bunch of musicians, and it was a very ambitious band. So we were not always polite to each other. But we still worked together on the project hoping that the world could be ours. CBS took us on tour with Captain Beefheart to find out whether we could stand the distance or not - and we could. But in the studio it was not always a perfect idyll. Finally we had to send the tapes to USA to be mixed without any intervention from any band member.
Also it was confusing working with two very different projects in the studio at the same time.
The cover is splendid! We found the cover art in an art gallery in Stockholm.
But after all, some of the best Secret Oyster tracks are to be found on this album.

and the live album Live in the USA 2007 from 2008

That live album was the result of the re-release of your studio albums in USA (all your albums are now widely available) which meant you got back together after some decades apart and gigged in USA.

How was it to get back together again and will this reunion result in new studio albums? 

Kenneth decided some ten years ago not to perform on stage any more. Jess Stæhr, the bass player to follow Mads Vinding, decided not to be part of the re-union, so we had two new members on these places. But that was sheer pleasure playing with this band after all these years! After a few concerts in Denmark we did the NEARfest close to New York City, and that was one of the greatest moments in my musical life!
After that we played quite a lot of gigs (including one more festival in US) and began working on new songs to be part of a new album.
But around Christmas Claus Bøhling got into serious private problems, resulting in a not scheduled break - that until today unfortunately still goes on.

Following on from that, what is your current status and what are your plans?

As said - we have not being playing together for 9 month. But I’m sure, that all band members hope for the possibilities to work together again. Including doing that album!

To wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to add to this interview?

The best Secret Oyster concerts were the best concerts I ever did. Such energy! And also I learned a lot from playing with this band, especially from Kenneth Knudsen. But it was from time to time no fun to be part of this band travelling around in Europe.
Still I’m proud having created this unique unit and being part of the international scene for electric jazz and fusion.

Thank you to Karsten Vogel for this interview

Their PA profile is here and the homepage's here

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Andrea Cortese View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 30 2011 at 15:31
Great work, as usual.Smile

I got their second album, "Sea Son", excellent jazz-rock!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 30 2011 at 15:55
Cool. And I agree with him, if there's one to get it's Sea Son.
Pretty fun band overall. I hope the problems go away and they can make that new album soon!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 30 2011 at 21:38
These guys put out three incredible albums and it's hard to argue against Sea Son as being the best.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 31 2011 at 00:34
Great band with a couple of wonderful albums!

Follow me on twitter @memowakeman
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: August 31 2011 at 01:47
Great band and interview. A little short though.

I kind of miss some talk of their inspirations and maybe a top five albums. I love to hear about artists own favorites (I know some of that was covered in the Burnin' Red Ivanhoe interview).
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2011 at 12:21
One of my favorite groups.  Just found this.  Thanks!

"Straight to the Krankenhaus" is my favorite from them, and one of my all time favorites as well.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 30 2011 at 13:24
Thanks ToroddClap
Karsten is one of my all-time faves, and he certainly is one of the biggest forces inside "progressive" music in my country. I think he´ll be playing his saxophone until his last breath.
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