The Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra: The Voice of Silence
This unconventional album by the DRJO consists of a nine–part suite written by Palle Mikkelborg as “an homage to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art” (which is not in the Louisiana that encircles the mouth of the Mississippi River but in the Danish town of Humlebaek, about 30 km north of Copenhagen). The museum was established by the late Knud Jensen (he passed away last year), to whom the ethereal 10–minute “Prologue” is dedicated. Other movements describe in musical terms aspects of Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso as well as Danish, Japanese and Aboriginal artists, among others. It’s an absorbing concept, but is it Jazz? No, it’s not, says Mikkelborg; it’s “simply music,” taking as its source the composer’s fascination with human pictures, human desires and, most of all, the human spirit. “I’ve never had a musical ambition in my life,” he writes, ”only a spiritual one. My life–long journey in music and its magic has only ever had one aim: to find peace [of] mind.” After listening to The Voice of Silence, one is compelled to echo Mikkelborg’s assertion that this is lovely music that has little to do with Jazz beyond the fact that it is being played by one of Europe’s foremost Jazz orchestras. There are, however, a number of improvised passages with solos (unwritten, we presume) in every section of the suite. As improvisation is at the core of Jazz, perhaps it would be more accurate to state that Mikkelborg’s opus embodies elements of Jazz, at times more prominent than others (“The Forest,” featuring trumpeter Henrik Bolberg Pedersen, offers an explicit example of its Jazz substructure, “Snapshots” with tenor Uffe Markussen and trombonist Steen Hansen another). But taken as a whole the suite resembles more closely a contemporary symphonic work than a suite that one would readily associate with a Jazz ensemble such as the DRJO. As Mikkelborg says, it’s only music, and lovely music at that. If you’re above labels, appreciate music that is off–center and adventurous but not so far removed from Jazz that no traces remain, The Voice of Silence could be the very voice you’ve been longing to hear.
Contact:Stunt Records, 29 W. Maple Avenue, Bellmawr, NJ 08031 (phone 856–931–6441; fax 856–931–6445. www.sundance.dk
Track Listing: Prologue; Tempus / Pop Art; The Voice of Silence; The Forest; Authenticity; Snapshots; Those Who Build; Joy; Epilogue (72:51).
Personnel: Palle Mikkelborg, composer, conductor; Anders Gustafsson, Benny Rosenfeld, Thomas Kjaergaard, Henrik Bolberg Pedersen, Thomas Fryland, trumpet, flugelhorn; Michael Hove, alto, soprano sax, clarinet; Nicolai Schultz, alto sax, clarinet, flute, alto flute; Tomas Franck, Uffe Markussen, tenor, soprano sax, clarinet; Flemming Madsen, baritone sax, clarinet, bass clarinet; Vincent Nilsson, Steen Hansen, Peter Jensen, trombone; Alf Vestergaard, bass trombone; Axel Windfeld, bass trombone, tuba; Helen Davies, harp; Nikolaj Bentzon, keyboards; Anders