JT Track Premiere: “Lilyhammer Nocturne” by Little Steven & the Interstellar Jazz Renegades

The '50s jazz-channeling tune appears on the soundtrack for the E Street Band guitarist's Netflix show Lilyhammer, out July 12

Steven Van Zandt
Steven Van Zandt onstage with his Disciples of Soul band (photo: Björn Olsson)

JazzTimes is honored to present the premiere of “Lilyhammer Nocturne” by musician/actor Steven Van Zandt, of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and The Sopranos fame, and the Interstellar Jazz Renegades. The track leads off Lilyhammer The Score — Volume 1: Jazz, to be released by Wicked Cool/UMe on July 12, which collects all the jazz-influenced compositions that Van Zandt wrote for the original Netflix series Lilyhammer. Van Zandt also starred in, co-wrote, and co-produced the show, which aired from 2012 to 2014; this is the first time that its music is being made commercially available.

In Lilyhammer, Van Zandt played a New York mobster who flees to Norway under the witness protection program. When it came time to compose the score, the show’s subject matter led him to delve into two musical areas with which he’s not usually associated: jazz and Norwegian folk. For the jazz portions, Van Zandt took the recommendation of E Street bandmate Max Weinberg and reached out to Grammy Award-winning pianist, arranger, and orchestrator Lee Musiker. Together they assembled the Interstellar Jazz Renegades, a loose collective of some of NYC’s finest musicians, led by Musiker and orchestrators Stan Harrison, Raul Agraz, and Adam Hochstatter.

Lilyhammer‘s opening theme starts off as a swinging, ’50s-style jazz tune that owes more than a little to Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe,” and then deftly segues into Norwegian folk music, illustrating the collision of two cultures. The jazz part evolved from “Lilyhammer Nocturne,” but as is typical only a small part of the original composition made it into the show; you can hear much more of it in this track.

“I figured I’ve got some of the most talented musicians in New York City so why waste them on 15-second cues,” Van Zandt explains. “We decided to have some fun. I’d meet Lee about an hour before the session and give him the top line melodies, basic chord changes and structure, and talk about the overall mood of the piece. I wanted to try something different and get the musicians’ creative input and let these guys who were used to always reading their parts express themselves for a change. We would basically arrange it on the spot. I’d suggest a harmony, Lee would suggest an idea, and the musicians would begin to orchestrate themselves. It was wild and extremely fruitful. After the success of the first session I knew we had a legitimate jazz album in addition to an incredible score.”

Lilyhammer The Score – Volume 1: Jazz will be released on the same date as its counterpart, Lilyhammer The Score – Volume 2: Folk, Rock, Rio Bits and Pieces, on CD, digital, and 180-gram black vinyl.

Go here to check out a video of Van Zandt’s spin on the Sinatra standard “My Kind of Town” (also featured in Volume 1: Jazz).

Preorder Lilyhammer The Score – Volume 1: Jazz here.