Anders Jormin: Touching the Heart and Spirit
The result was Xeiyi , meaning "to write," or "to compose your thoughts." Recording a second album of solo bass represented its own challenges. "I think Xeiyi was partly a way of challenging myself," explains Jormin, "and also maybe checking myself, seeing if I could do the concept of Alone once again, but even deeper, even better, from my own personal point of view. I think I can hear myself having become a much better bassist. The things I do on Xeiyi are, in a way, much more advanced, much more complex, but the expression and simplicity, at the same time, is the same and that's what I wanted. You can say it's a risk to try and do it again ten years later, because it would be natural to say, 'Now he does it a second time, it's boring' but I got very positive reviews for it as well. I think it is a development of what I did on Alone , to see what I could do with my supposedly-clumsy instrument; how melodic, how easy, how musical can I be on the bass?"
Advanced Techniques and Another Influence
Jormin has developed a number of unusual techniques for the double-bass, many of them influenced by instruments other than his own. "Well, I have spent a few hours on the bass, and developed a couple of playing techniques that are either loaned from other instruments, like the classical guitar, or maybe from Jaco Pastorius on the electric bass. He put bass and melody together somehow, he made the bass a musical instrument. He could play very groovy and very technically advanced, but also very melodically. He was also a great composer. The few things he had time to do were really good, so he was a big influence on me.
"So I invented a few things myself," continues Jormin, "that are already being used by quite a few bassists in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. And they always say that they stole them from me. They're nothing dramatic, just a few playing techniques that slowly spread; once you see somebody do it, it's like, "Oh, this is how he does that!' It's just things people didn't think of.
Xeiyi is differentiated from Alone by more than simply ten years of distance. Breaking up the solo pieces is a series of chamber pieces for brass ensemble that lends the album an even more unique complexion. "I recorded a whole solo bass album with Manfred," Jormin says, "and then later, when it was to be released, Manfred called me up and said, 'Anders, I hear some brass music here.' Then I said, "Oh do you, I don't,' but he still wanted me to consider composing small sketches for brass in order to mix up the album, because that's what he heard, having listened a lot to it. And while I actually said no at first, a whole summer came and went and then I called him up and said, 'OK Manfred, I did some compositions, do you want me to record them?' And so I recorded them without his presence, with four guys from the symphony orchestra here in town, four very, very good players, and Manfred loved it, and scattered the pieces between my bass pieces."
Eicher allows Jormin a quite uncharacteristic degree of freedom with his own records. "I think it comes from the fact," explains Jormin, "that Manfred said to me, 'I trust you Anders, it's almost as if you don't need me.' I think he has some kind of respect for my artistic potential and he also knows there is a certain direction in my music that he has found, and that's what he's looking for most of the time. When there is trust then he doesn't say very much. It's the same way we record with Bobo, he doesn't say very much because there is already a solid concept.
"I have felt a lot of trust from Manfred," continues Jormin. "In other cases, when he finds his schedule makes it impossible for him to come to a recording session as planned, he would just cancel the recording; that's something I have experienced in other situations. But for me he just says, 'Anders, just go on, I trust your music.' I think he knows that when I want to record I have a very good and strong idea behind it, and he's happy with that. I am really happy to feel that I have Manfred's full confidence and I'm very fortunate."
On the other hand, the one place where Eicher continues to exert his influence is with the sequencing of the compositions. "On both my own albums for ECM," Jormin says, "Manfred has had ideas. On Xeiyi he changed my suggestion of order, doing it in a totally new sequence, although on the new album, it has a certain order because it's a big composition. So there he agreed with me, but he could have had opinions and then most probably I would have accepted them, because I think he is very good at putting the tunes in the right order. I have seen that many times, on Bobo's recordings as well, it's always Manfred's order of tunes. I find that his sequencing of tunes is sometimes quite daring, he is never interested in putting some kind of hit tune as the first track. The first track might be very obscure; he trusts and requests from the listener to experience the record as a piece of art in itself."