Marius Neset: Norwegian Woods
AAJ: The final track on the album is pianist Abdullah Ibrahim's "The Wedding," a gorgeous tune, which again has a hymnal quality. Was it an obvious choice to add to your own compositions?
MN: That was the first piece we played with this duo. We had listened to that Abdullah Ibrahim record, and it's really beautiful. From the beginning, we thought it would be interesting to arrange it for tuba and saxophone. We have a very strong relationship to that song, and I think you can hear that we really connect on it.
AAJ: The sound throughout Neck of the Woods is really excellent. You must be very pleased with that side of the music, no?
MN: Thank you. August Wanngren recorded it. He's a really fantastic sound engineer. He's done all my albums. Daniel and I produced the album ourselves.
AAJ: How does this music transfer onto the stage?
MN: We have performed it live, actually, and we've performed a lot of gigs as a duo in Scandinavia and other countries of Europe. We played it in Germany with a German choir, which was really nice, and then we did it with a Norwegian choir as well. Most of our concerts we just play as a duo.
AAJ: Going back a few years, your career really got off the ground with the band JazzKamikaze, which, despite your success as a solo artist and that of Anton Eger with Phronesis, continues to play concerts. The band has just released a new CD called The Return of JazzKamikaze. What can you tell us about the music on this album?
MN: It was a nice album to make because I think it's the most creative album we have done. It was much more intense than anything else we've done, because we worked for six hours nearly every day for one month. We wrote and rehearsed the music a lot, and it was created in really a short period of time. The process was different from before. We also experimented a lot in the studio with African instruments. There were a lot of instruments available in the studio, so we experimented with them. It was a really fun album to do.
AAJ: Would you say the music has evolved from Jazz Kamikaze's previous albums?
MN: Yes, definitely. This album has elements from the first two albums, which was closer to a traditional jazz sound, whereas Supersonic Revolution was more like a rock record. The new album is like a meeting between the first two.
AAJ: Is it more difficult for JazzKamikaze to tour these days, given that you're all busy in different projects?
MN: Yes, you're right. We don't play as much as we did before. It's more difficult to find the time, but we love playing together, so we will try and tour next year. We may be going to Thailand in December this year.
AAJ: That's good to hear. Marius, you've previously released two solo albums, Suite for the Seven Mountains (Calibrated, 2007) and Golden Xplosion (Edition Records, 2011), and the latter in particular received universally great reviews. Do you see Golden Xplosion as a turning point in your career?
MN: I think so. Musically above all, because the way I wrote that album is the way I write music today. I'm trying to fit everything around the saxophone. When I write on the piano, I try to make sounds that fit the saxophone. It was composed in a very personal way, so it was a turning point in the sense that I had found my own personality. I like Suite for the Seven Mountains, but Golden Xplosion was so well received in so many countries that it was really great playing that music everywhere. It's growing more and more. I've got a lot of fantastic feedback, which is good to hear.
AAJ: You had great musicians alongside you, didn't you?
MN: Yeah, yeah. Anton and I have really played a lot together. We meet often and practice and develop together, so it's almost like being in a marriage, in a way. Me and Anton produced that album and have also done it on my forthcoming album. Jasper Hoiby is a fantastic bassist who plays with Anton in Phronesis. He has a fantastic sound and plays in a really exciting way. Then there's Django Bates; what he did with my music was fantastic. I'm so glad he played on that album; it was really one of the biggest moments of my life. We'd all played with each other in different settings but never in this lineup, but there was a real togetherness, and at the same time it was really fresh and new, and I think you can hear that on the albumall these creative influences.
AAJ: It was certainly a strong quartet, for sure. Other than the recording with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, do you have any other recording plans for 2013?
MN: Yes, I have my third solo album coming out in March.
AAJ: It really is quite stunning. Can you tell us about the musicians on it?
MN: Anton [Eger] and Jasper [Hoiby] and Ivo Neame on pianoa fantastic player who also plays in Phronesis. And Jim Hart on vibeshe has extremely good rhythmical and harmonic sense. Then I have my sister on flute. I think it's one of the signature sounds of this album. Then there's the accordion of Bjarke Mogensen, one of Europe's greatest classical players. Both he and my sister also have great feel for rhythm, so they can play whatever I write. I also have a brass quintet playing as well. I try to build all the music around my saxophone and the way my saxophone sounds. There are a lot of contrasts in the music, and I hope people will enjoy it.