The music of Jono El Grande is neither electronic nor improvised. It is in fact extremely well composed and arranged for an expanded rock band, the instrumentation of which is highly similar to Frank Zappa's "Small Wazoo" band. And the music itself is strongly reminiscent of Zappa's "big-band" writing on ”The Grand Wazoo” and ”Waka/Jawaka”. Those are pretty strong comparisons to make, and the fact that ”Fevergreens” holds up to them is the best compliment anyone can make. But El Grande also adds a delightful touch of cheesy Tropicalismo lifted in part from genuine Cuban and South American music, but also from the easy listening renditions of Latin music styles. After the first four fast-paced and exciting numbers, "Cuban Serum" comes as a shock. The listener is not ready. But by ”Chá!” one understands how El Grande balances satire and pure enjoyment of the genre, much like Zappa truly loved doo wop. And the band plays those syrupy passages so beautifully, you can't help but fall in love with the music. One of the biggest surprises of 2003, this album deserves the highest recommendation for anyone who enjoys serious music that doesn't take itself seriously.
All Music Guide (US)
The effervescent mood of "Fevergreens" is a pleasant surprise. The hackneyed view that Norwegian music is condemned to register anxious introspection through brooding atmospheres should be dispelled once and for all by Jono El Grande´s relentlessly entertaining music. "Fevergreens" often suggests a festival of ersatz folk music contrived by Zappa. Elsewhere it may bring to mind a 1960s film soundtrack scored by Henry Cow with a local dance orchestra commandeered to accompany action sequences. At times Jono El Grande plays risky games with potentially banal materials, but the vitality of his writing keeps just the right uplifting balance between sweetness and acidity.
The Wire (UK)
Leading a ten-piece orchestra, complete with saxophone, xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspiel, trumpet, flute, doublebass and drums, Håtun, himself a multi-instrumentist, crashes through established boundaries to amalgamate anything from Frank Zappa and seventies prog-rock to easy listening, film music, pop and circus music in a vast shambolic whirlwind of cheesy melodies and clever orchestrations. If this record is by all means nothing of what you would expect Rune Grammofon to release, it becomes an extremely logical addition to the label’s catalogue once the moment of surprise has passed. Håtun’s excellent control of his music and of his orchestra helps create an extremely fascinating record. ”Fevergreens” is no less than compelling listening.
Milk Factory (UK)
For various reasons I was not sure if I would be very interested in listening to this album. In other words strangely prejudiced. Then it´s perhaps fitting to admit to a most humble turnaround after almost having played "Fevergreens" to pieces the last few days. This is simply a joyful album. Full of life and charm.
"Fevergreens" is a most remarkable release, both for its musical content and the way it has exposed certain cultural shortcomings of the day. I must admit I have been amused by critics desperately trying to give it a historic and stylistic place. The material has a consistently high melodic and instrumental quality and a painstakingly executed orchestration regarding detail, dynamics and variation. "Fevergreens" is easily the most interesting Norwegian record I have heard this year.
Jono El Grande´s fevergreens are funny and cool. They navigate in a strange landscape between cabaret, caribbean cruise music and the theme tune from "Poirot", with a good dash of contemporary music and big band jazz on top.