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Mathias Eick: The Lyrical Dimension

By Published: December 30, 2011
AAJ: You play more instruments, even on Skala, what side of you do they represent?

ME: It is more like a matter of habit, a spontaneous thing. As a child I was used to play many instruments, and these days, even during the sound checks, I still try one thing or another. As I said, the trumpet is a part of me but I love playing bass and I love piano and I love playing vibraphone; there's not much thinking about it, it just comes as a natural thing.

AAJ: Sometimes, your solo playing gives the impression of sheer loneliness, and I don't mean lack of musical synergy. Is this what you feel when you play or is it the characteristic of your tone that's your trademark?

ME: Yes, it is the trademark, I should say. But then again, you know, music is all about emotions and one of my biggest goals was to get in touch with my emotions so that I could express them through the instruments I am playing. Of course, listening to the music is a subjective act, but in those moments I am alone with my feelings and I am trying to express them in the best way I can.

AAJ: Where does your trumpet tone come from?

ME: It comes from everything I have been listening throughout the years, I guess, not only trumpet players, but music in general. I have been listening a lot to Jan Garbarek and Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
. It is also a result of me trying not to sound like any of them.

AAJ: Do you have a feeling of belonging to the Nordic jazz community?

ME: When we got the contract with ECM in Germany I became a member of the ECM community, and that's what I wanted to achieve. Because I am from Norway people will put me into the Nordic category. But I do not think too much about it. On the other hand, I understand that when we are out in the world people think that we have a common trace and we sound the same. The common trace there, I think, is the emotion we put into our music rather than a certain stylistic brand.

Maybe I am part of the Nordic ideology, in the way we all think about music. In Norway you don't have to play music in order to survive. We are not doing concerts because we need to pay the rent. We play music because we think that it is a lot of fun to play with great musicians. If you live in a society where you have to play every day in a small club or other places where people don't listen to you, the mentality is totally different. As a composer, for instance, in Norway you can survive without making music you don't want to make, you can take your time and come up with something real good after five years if you want. There's no existential pressure there.

AAJ: Do you have any idea why you guys up there in the North have broken the barrier and came to accept and acknowledge emotions, and not only in music?

ME: One practical or logical explanation is that there is a lot of support system so you can actually apply for scholarships or a time of study. So you can take your time and really approach a form of art in depth and attach to it the right kind of emotion. Norway is a rich country and the system has already a tradition in supporting culture and creativity, which now starts paying out even on the emotional level.

AAJ: What are your short- and long-term plans?

ME: My short term plan is that I am going to New Orleans on Monday with my girlfriend for two weeks. It is mostly for holiday but I am also going to check out the roots of jazz. Another plan is to play a concert in Oslo with my band and to write music for a brass orchestra, probably in January. Then I plan to start recording a new album this winter. Next summer I hope that we can tour USA and Canada for the first time. The five-year project is to start focusing in the solo project and make it bigger and also play more in Germany and in Europe.

Selected Discography

Mathias Eick, Skala (ECM, 2011)
Iro Haarla, Vespers (ECM, 2011)
Jaga Jazzist, One-Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune, 2010)
Lars Danielsson, Tarantella (ACT Music, 2009)
Mathias Eick, The Door (ECM, 2008)
Manu Katché, Playground (ECM, 2007)
Jacob Young, Sideways (ECM 2007)
Iro Haarla, Northbound (ECM, 2005)
Jacob Young, Evening Falls (ECM, 2004)

Photo Credits
Page 1: John Kelman
All Other Photos: Richard Wayne

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