Saxophonist Jan Galega Br'nnimann belongs to the younger generation on the Swiss jazz scene. He stands in apparent creative schizophrenia ' he respects the tradition of jazz but he also likes to experiment. The result of this typical post-modern contradiction is the music of Brink Man Ship: a futuristic vision of jazz without stylistic and racial prejudice, accepted by such various subcultures as jazz fans, rockers, and party animals, but also the avant-garde and experimental scene. He recorded two great albums with Brink Man Ship: Logbook (Brambus, 1999) and Translusion (Brambus, 2000). He also tours a lot; seeing a Brink Man Ship concert is an impressive experience, something between electronic live act and a jazz jam session.
All About Jazz: How did you get to the contemporary sound of Brink Man Ship? What is your music background?
Jan Galega Br'nnimann: It's different for me and the band. I like a lot of music. On one hand I like classical jazz. On the other hand, I like electronic music. I also listen to some kinds of pop music and DJs. For me it is quite interesting to mix together all of those influences.
AAJ: Have you ever played in a mainstream jazz band?
JGB: Yes, but not too mainstream. It was always a little bit modern.
AAJ: Do you consider Brink Man Ship a jazz band or an electronic band?
JGB: I think it's jazz. On the last tour we have played a lot at dance floors and DJ places, and then we realized that maybe we are a little bit different from that scene. We tried to play real dance floor music, but our heart is still more experimental. Sometimes we like to make grooves and beats and then we suddenly switch and make mixes and try to be a little bit non-conventional. It really isn't music for teenagers.
AAJ: We can see a lot of recycling in today's mainstream jazz. Many musicians play just the same as what Coltrane had played and consider it as the one and only 'jazz." They can't accept Brink Man Ship as a regular form of jazz because of their conventional view on jazz. What do you think about such people?
JGB: Maybe they would have said the same about Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie if they lived in the '40s, but I don't want to compare us with those stars. For jazz it's very important to go on, otherwise it's conserved music.
AAJ: Will jazz survive the 21st century?
JGB: Yes, sure.
AAJ: In which form?
JGB: I think it will fuse with other styles, but there will always be also the mainstream. If you look at the mainstream of today, it is also a fusion of different styles. That's the speciality of jazz: you can improvise with different styles and sounds. Maybe the developement is more in sound, at least in electronic forms of jazz.
AAJ: What do you think about categorizing the music? Is it useful or a disservice to the music?
JGB: I really don't like names for music. But sometimes you have to put something on a festival bulletin or poster. The positive aspect of categories is that people who don't know the band will come to a concert, because they've read that it is "electronica" or "new beatz." If the poster says "Swiss Jazz Band," it could be a Dixieland band, swing band, or fusion band... etc. It's good to explain what kind of music we do, especially for young people, who consider jazz as foreign and boring music.
AAJ: It's been quite a long time since your last release. What about a new album?
JGB: We would like to record it this summer. We'd like to spend a lot of time in the studio and record long jam sessions. Then we can work with this material and make a remix of our music.
AAJ: Can we expect some differences in relation to Translusion, your last album?
JGB: I think it will be more uncommon.
AAJ: How do you compose new music? Do you prepare the whole arrangement or do you leave some space for other musicians?
JGB: I leave a lot of space. I prepare the rythm and bass, melody. But as we do remixes, everybody has to bring his own idea. It's similiar to constructing a building. I make the wall, but the rest ' windows, interior, etc. ' is made by other musicians.
AAJ: Your stage instrumentation is quite strange and interesting. Please describe your equipment.
JGB: The drummer has acoustic drum set with a trigger on the bass drum, octopad and sampler with a lot of samples and loops. Emanuel and Rene have got for guitar and bass various wah wah's, delays, Line 6. I've got some loops, loop delays, wah wah, chaos-pad from Korg ' that's very nice toy. I have also found an old electronic toy for children and I try to make some noises with it, put some other effects on it. If I use those things a little bit different that they're supposed to be, then it's nice.
AAJ: What about the jazz scene in Switzerland ?
JGB: I think it is quite interesting. We have a lot of good musicians. Last time I met some really good people and that's the reason I'm staying in Switzerland. I know almost every good musician there and that's really nice.