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Anders Jormin: Touching the Heart and Spirit

John Kelman By

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His association with Stenson would lead to his first recording for ECM, Charles Lloyd's '92 recording, Notes from Big Sur. "That was my first experience with Manfred Eicher," Jormin says, "playing with Charles Lloyd. I think Charles must have asked Bobo who he should use, and Bobo recommended me. I know he was very happy with the band during those years. It meant a lot to him. We had some wonderful years and tours, some great experiences for me, I'm very happy for that period."

While Lloyd would supply almost all the compositions for the four recordings Jormin made with him, he trusted his group's instincts implicitly. "His compositions," explains Jormin, "were quite often just sketches, a little unfinished or a little vague, probably on purpose. He would come with directions, because we did rehearse—not very much, but we did rehearse. But his directions were very typical Charles Lloyd—I can give you an example from my first rehearsal, which I'll never forget. He looked at me and said, 'Give me some St. Petersburg.' That was what he wanted to hear from me, and I was of course, quite unsure. What kind of music is that? And another, 'Take me to India.' Most of his instructions were so emotional and coloured by his imagination and his way of thinking musically, so what they actually meant, both for me and for Bobo, was, 'Go ahead guys, and play what you think fits the simple sketch I've done.' Bobo and I would also do some work with his compositions—we added a chord here, added a bar there, and suddenly the sketches worked very well. Charles never asked, 'What did you do with this composition, suddenly it sounds good,' but it was ultimately a good collective process."

At the same time as they were working with Lloyd's quartet, Jormin and Stenson also played in Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's quartet, recording two albums, Matka Joanna and the classic Leosia. The approach to the music, while sharing certain characteristics with Lloyd, was still quite different. "In a way you could say they were sketches," Jormin says, "but at the same time, quite carefully composed, meaning that if you sat down and played what Tomasz wrote, they were very beautiful pieces. But then, when performing, he was not so interested in playing exactly what he wrote, rather he was quite happy with whatever we came up with; he was definitely interested in free improvisation. What it meant was that he composed very beautiful compositions all the time, and we played them the way we wanted, and then the improvisations were free. They could have been excellently played over the form—the chords and harmonic structure of the compositions, because they were great, Tomasz Stanko is a great composer—but he leaves the performance of his music to the moment and he's very happy with that."


While his association with Stanko and Lloyd continued, along with more trio work with Stenson, Jormin continued to pursue his own projects for the Dragon label. Often-times stemming from commissions, Jormin sees that as a huge differentiator between support for the arts in Europe and the United States. "In Europe, in general, there's a bigger support for the arts," says Jormin. "How do we do it? We have high taxes, that's where the money comes from, compared to the United States, where they don't have such high taxes and don't support the arts in the same way. I think it has been especially important in Scandinavia, because our countries are big but with very few people, and should it be at all economically possible to have art spread across the country there must be generous support for it. Norway is, I would say, the best example of a country that supports its arts—they do it very well, and they are very proud of their jazz musicians, their improvising musicians, while Sweden is more into supporting classical music in general, so my kind of music gets only a little of the total amount. But a lot is needed and it's important."


'95's Jord , meaning Earth or Soil, stemmed from a commission for the International Society for Contemporary Music, and featured an unusual quintet of double-bass, vibraphone, keyboards, trumpet and percussion. "The ISCM is a very fine gathering of new music lovers from around the world," Jormin explains, "they have some kind of congress once a year, and it was in Stockholm that year. The host country always gives out a couple of commissions of new music, and I was one of the composers chosen. So it was a commission performed during the ISCM congress. And I did choose, and always choose, musicians I find I have great respect for or musicians that I am very curious about for different reasons.


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