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Contemporary Jazz in Denmark: Different Sounds, Different Scenes

By Published: January 6, 2009
What has happened lately is that Danish jazz has finally come to terms with its own diversity and it has become a strength. A wealth of Danish labels are promoting everything from mainstream to avant-garde and pop, often mixing it all together. Labels like Stunt, Calibrated/Cope and Steeplechase continue to cater to an audience that wants quality mainstream while ILK and Loveland Records create the sounds of tomorrow. It is different sounds and different scenes that are still somehow tied together. Tradition is revised and carried on into something new. The time when critics longed for a ”Danish sound” is over. While the clichés of the ”Nordic sound” is in danger of repeating itself ad absurdum, Danish jazz musicians continue to find unity in diversity, exploring a wide range of feelings and genres. This is the strength of contemporary jazz in Denmark as it unfolds in all its shapes and sizes right now.

How to get started with New Danish Jazz. Fourteen Suggestions for further Listening:

  1. Jakob Bro, Pearl River (Loveland Records 2007). The young guitarist delivers his first masterpiece. Sidemen include Paul Motian, Mark Turner & Chris Cheek.

  2. Søren Kjærgaard – Ben Street – Andrew Cyrille, Optics (ILK 2008). Søren Kjærgaard's Optics is a study in movement and sound. Echoes of Andrew Hill and Cecil Taylor permeates throughout this bold, adventurous release.

  3. Jacob Anderskov, På dansk (ILK 2006). Anderskov interprets Danish folklore in a convincing manner. Look out for his other releases too!

  4. Sinne Eeg, Waiting for Dawn (Calibrated 2007). A female jazz singer with international potential steps out into the limelight.

  5. Jonas Westergaard, Helgoland (Stunt 2008). Westergaard is a much sought-after sideman but on this ambitious release he plays his own challenging compositions and gets help from some of the finest musicians on the scene.

  6. Yak, Yak Værk (Loco 2006). High energy and lots of noise from Yak, a typical example of the wild Loco sound.

  7. Sound of Choice, Rugby in Japan (Quark Records 2006). Hasse Poulsen is the Danish Derek Bailey and continues to push the boundaries for his own music.

  8. Carsten Dahl, Solo Piano (Stunt 2003). Three albums worth of solo material from Carsten Dahl, a very original player with a poetic touch - not unlike Keith Jarrett.

  9. Paul Bley & Kresten Osgood, Florida (ILK 2007). A meeting between the master and his disciple on this lovely release.

  10. Jakob Buchanan Sextet, I (Long Life Records 2006). Promising trumpeter delivers the goods on this album that features the talent of Chris Speed

  11. Blood Sweat Drum 'N' Bass Big Band, Live Sessions with Arve Henriksen & Studio Recordings (Calibrated 2007). Interesting mix of big band jazz and electronic soundscapes

  12. Stefan Pasborg, Triplepoint (ILK 2007) . Highly ambitious outing from masterful drummer. Three cds of constantly inventive music.

  13. Saft, Thirteen (KakoFone 2008). Hear the sound of Danish jazz tomorrow today. Abstract grooves, free form chaos and lyrical beauty from the very young trio, Saft.

  14. Kasper Villaume Quartet, #2 (Stunt 2003). Superb mainstream from pianist Villaume and his outstanding quartet.

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