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Anders Jormin: Touching the Heart and Spirit

By Published: October 4, 2004

At the same time as they were working with Lloyd's quartet, Jormin and Stenson also played in Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's quartet, recording two albums, Matka Joanna and the classic Leosia. The approach to the music, while sharing certain characteristics with Lloyd, was still quite different. "In a way you could say they were sketches," Jormin says, "but at the same time, quite carefully composed, meaning that if you sat down and played what Tomasz wrote, they were very beautiful pieces. But then, when performing, he was not so interested in playing exactly what he wrote, rather he was quite happy with whatever we came up with; he was definitely interested in free improvisation. What it meant was that he composed very beautiful compositions all the time, and we played them the way we wanted, and then the improvisations were free. They could have been excellently played over the form—the chords and harmonic structure of the compositions, because they were great, Tomasz Stanko is a great composer—but he leaves the performance of his music to the moment and he's very happy with that."


While his association with Stanko and Lloyd continued, along with more trio work with Stenson, Jormin continued to pursue his own projects for the Dragon label. Often-times stemming from commissions, Jormin sees that as a huge differentiator between support for the arts in Europe and the United States. "In Europe, in general, there's a bigger support for the arts," says Jormin. "How do we do it? We have high taxes, that's where the money comes from, compared to the United States, where they don't have such high taxes and don't support the arts in the same way. I think it has been especially important in Scandinavia, because our countries are big but with very few people, and should it be at all economically possible to have art spread across the country there must be generous support for it. Norway is, I would say, the best example of a country that supports its arts—they do it very well, and they are very proud of their jazz musicians, their improvising musicians, while Sweden is more into supporting classical music in general, so my kind of music gets only a little of the total amount. But a lot is needed and it's important."


'95's Jord , meaning Earth or Soil, stemmed from a commission for the International Society for Contemporary Music, and featured an unusual quintet of double-bass, vibraphone, keyboards, trumpet and percussion. "The ISCM is a very fine gathering of new music lovers from around the world," Jormin explains, "they have some kind of congress once a year, and it was in Stockholm that year. The host country always gives out a couple of commissions of new music, and I was one of the composers chosen. So it was a commission performed during the ISCM congress. And I did choose, and always choose, musicians I find I have great respect for or musicians that I am very curious about for different reasons.

"I learned, through the years," Jormin continues, "not to choose the instrumentation, meaning I choose the people first, and then see what kind of band I have—is it four harps and a clarinet? Hmm, that's very difficult, so maybe then I think twice, but in general I choose artists that I really appreciate. Rather than looking for a trumpet player, I look for a certain kind of expressiveness, and I had worked with Per Jorgensen, the Norwegian trumpet player who was on that record, through Jon Balke, a Norwegian colleague of mine, and I always admired his presence on stage. He's an excellent performer and inspirational, both for the audience and for his fellow musicians in the playing moment. He's really focused and present; that goes for all the players on Jord , I like them all for different reasons. I like the vibraphone; it's cold but played in the right way, still very warm, and in combination with the electric keyboards it's very rich."

Jord also featured Jorgensen and percussionist Lisbeth Diers singing, and the human voice has a quality that Jormin has ultimately returned to time and again. "Per is well-known, in my part of the world, for his fantastic singing," Jormin says, "while Lisbeth, who I made sing duet with him, had never sung before. So I encouraged her, and sometimes I used my own voice as well. This can be seen as an expression of my deep interest in singing and also my own small efforts to use my voice, not always to great success, but I am working on it—not taking singing lessons, but mentally—so it may be that I'll use my voice more in the future. I actually recorded a vocal piece for Xeiyi , my first solo record on ECM, but Manfred took it away, I guess that tells you something about the level of my singing."


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