In the first few years of the last century, a Norwegian sea captain named Roald Amundsen and his crew became the first sailors to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans; a monument at Ocean Beach commemorates the spot where his ship was pulled ashore in 1909. This week, San Francisco honors Norwegian pioneers of a different sort with the Northwest Passage Festival, a showcase of the country's excellent experimental jazz and electronic music. On Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Great American Music Hall, Jaga Jazzist and Supersilent provide the three-day fest's most concentrated dose of deconstructed jazz, with both bands kicking out jams that margin-walk between post-rock, digital sampling, and full-bore fusion, harnessing everything from horns to drum machines. For listeners who aren't afraid of the howl of the open seas, Maja Ratkje and Arve Henriksen take ambient drones, electronic improv, and vocal gymnastics into truly spooky territory at the opening night event on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 964 Natoma. And closing out the fest on Friday, Nov. 5, at 111 Minna, are DJs Strangefruit, Bjorn Torske, and Kent Horne spinning Norwegian dance music old and new -- proving that A-Ha was hardly the country's funkiest export. Go to www.northwestpassagefestival.com for complete info.
-- Philip Sherburne