Take Five With Simon Spang-Hanssen

Take Five With Simon Spang-Hanssen
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Meet Simon Spang-Hanssen:

First concerts in 1976 with John Tchicai
John Tchicai
John Tchicai
1936 - 2012
saxophone
and Strange Brothers, later also with Ben Besiakov, Jesper Lundgaard, Alex Riel
Alex Riel
Alex Riel
b.1940
drums
, New Jungle Orchestra, Jan Kaspersen, Mozar Terra, Doug Raney.

In Paris, from 1985-98: Orchestra National de Jazz, Denis Badault, Andy Emler, Nguyen Le
Nguyen Le
Nguyen Le
b.1959
guitar
, Quintet Moutin, Ramuntcho Matta, Edouard Ferlet.

Since 1998, mainly leader of my own ensembles with, amongst others, Kristian Joergensen, Bob Rockwell, Marilyn Mazur
Marilyn Mazur
Marilyn Mazur
b.1955
percussion
,Linley Marthe, Dawda Jobarteh, Thomas Fonnesbech, Mariane Bitran, Xavier Desandre, Mario Canonge, Tony Rabeson, Irio Junior, André Queiroz. Also member of Art Ensemble Syd (DK), with Michael Gregory Jackson or Chris Stover.

Instrument(s):

Soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, flute.

Teachers and/or influences?

Mostly self-taught. Strongly influenced by John Tchicai, with whom I started out and also by Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, who was often performing in Copenhagen in the seventies/eighties. I actually caught him a couple of times at the Café Montmartre. Other main influences : Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
, Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
, Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
, Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
1928 - 1964
reeds
, Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
, as well as Paul Gonsalves
Paul Gonsalves
Paul Gonsalves
1920 - 1974
sax, tenor
, John Gilmore
John Gilmore
John Gilmore
1931 - 1995
saxophone
, Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
1934 - 2004
sax, soprano
, Johnny Griffin
Johnny Griffin
Johnny Griffin
1928 - 2008
sax, tenor
and Booker Little
Booker Little
Booker Little
1938 - 1961
trumpet
.

As a composer/arranger I would also mention Hermeto Pascoal
Hermeto Pascoal
Hermeto Pascoal
b.1936
piano
, Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Antonio Carlos Jobim
1927 - 1994
piano
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
, Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
, Gil Evans
Gil Evans
Gil Evans
1912 - 1988
composer/conductor
, George Russell
George Russell
George Russell
1923 - 2009
piano
, Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
, Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
Joe Zawinul
1932 - 2007
keyboard
, Fela Kuti, Chucho Valdes
Chucho Valdes
Chucho Valdes
b.1941
piano
and Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
keyboard
.

In a more general way I have also been listening a lot to traditional and classical music from India, Turkey, Indonesia and Japan; African, Cuban and Brazilian Music (Elis Regina
Elis Regina
Elis Regina
b.1945
vocalist
, Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento
Milton Nascimento
b.1942
guitar
), Art Ensemble Of Chicago
Art Ensemble Of Chicago
Art Ensemble Of Chicago

band/orchestra
, Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
b.1937
saxophone
, Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler
1936 - 1970
sax, tenor
, Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
, Don Cherry
Don Cherry
Don Cherry
1936 - 1995
trumpet
, Debussy, Ravel and Stravinsky.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

At 14 I heard Duke Ellington's Money Jungle and was completely captivated (at that time I listened mostly to Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
1942 - 1970
guitar, electric
, The Doors, Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters
Muddy Waters
1915 - 1983
guitar
. Soon after, I bought my first jazz records, the sounds of Johnny Hodges
Johnny Hodges
Johnny Hodges
1907 - 1970
sax, alto
and Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
soon convincing me that I should become a saxophonist. I got an alto (rented) for my 15th birthday.

Your sound and approach to music:

It was always my idea to work on having a recognizable sound and develop my own ideas. On both soprano and tenor I like to explore the lower register. Generally my approach to music is quite intuitive.

Your teaching approach:

Each student is different, I try to find the best way to give them a taste for both creativity and regular work on the craft.

In ensemble teaching (which I do most), the focus is very much on the internal and external communication, sense of the musical whole, responsibility, energy, consciousness of form, duration, contrast. I usually use my own material; often we work out the forms and details of the arrangements together.

Your dream band:

I already have several ideal bands, some of them could play more often.

It would nice to play with Billy Hart
Billy Hart
Billy Hart
b.1940
drums
again, it has been a while.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

A couple of highlights:

A jam with Dexter Gordon at the La Fontaine, Copenhagen around 1982;

A festival-tour in France with Nenê's Band and Hermeto Pascoal e Grupo; the concerts usually ended in the street;

Rainbow Spirit at the Jahazi Festival, Zanzibar in 2012; lots of music, all-night jams in great surroundings.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
1916 - 1942
guitar, electric
, Live at Minton's Playhouse.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

A personal mix of things that I like, creating little surprises. In my compositions I would for instance use a straight-ahead 32-bar A-A-B-A form, but with not very bebop-ish scales and melodic turn; just an example.

These mixes are not done on purpose but pop up as the writing/playing goes along.

Having more or less started out with free jazz and later moved to modern jazz/bebop and experiences with Brazilian, Turkish, West African music etc., the possibilities of crossings are numerous. At the same time I try to keep the writing coherent and clear.

Did you know...

I am also a painter, mainly oil and gouache, and have had quite a few exhibitions during the last 12 years. Some main-influences: Klee, Miró, Picasso, COBRA, African and Oceanic art.

CDs you are listening to now:

Mario Canonge, Mitan (Kann};

Banda Urbana, Banda Urbana (Kalamata};

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