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Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2013

Henning Bolte By

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Nothing is specially rebuilt or redesigned; instead, venues are left in their old shape and more or less decayed state, with clear traces of their former industrial usage. The front, for example, an old car repair shop can now be found serving as a bio restaurant, an example of the re-aestheticization. Having your biological meal on spark plugs—Bosch bougies.

The music going on during the festival is an integral part of bigger whole. No efforts were made to create a huge mono-functional festival space. It was up to people to drop in or out at the venues, entry of which was for decent ticket prices—or even for free. This applied all over the town during the ten days of the festival.

To get to the ILK venue, it was necessary to enter through a small port in a railing to get to the slaughterhouse blocks. The music was happening in a compartment at the end of the 5e cross block. No clearing up or redesigning, either inside or outside; instead, just the raw state—simple, with some sparse accents as minimal necessary lighting. It was a receptive sphere, where it could be sensed that the music was being played for, shared and carried by an eager audience. A sphere, then, of joint attention and adventure.

Going for a completely unknown group, Eggs Laid By Tigers, only drummer Peter Bruun and pianist Simon Toldam were familiar. With plans to meet both of them in the next couple of days, it was a good reason to watch and listen incognito. Bruun and Toldam are involved in a variety of groups. Bruun is a member of Django Bates Beloved Trio, and also plays in a trio with Samuel Blaser and Marc Ducret. Toldam is the pianist in Han Bennink's trio. But what about Eggs Laid By Tigers? The announcements hinted at something special—extraordinary, even—whatever that might be.

It came as a total surprise when the group started: three guitarists sang heartfelt songs in colorful and vital close harmony. It felt as if Levon Helm was suddenly back on earth or ... but wait, these guys clearly were songsmiths of their own. What they gave were songs comprising a basic musical feeling expressed straight but in a sophisticated way—songs evoking happy moments of memory, facing the future wide awake and dream-facing. That kind of quality of pure joy. Brunn sang and played acoustic guitar from behind his drum kit; Toldam played on old Phillips organ from the '60s. The bass guitarist sang the lead in close unison with electric guitarist Martin Ullits Dahl. The group's excellent lead singer ultimately turned out to be Berlin-based jazz bassist Jonas Westergaard. A really surprising, seizing metamorphosis.

Eggs Laid By Tigers? The image originates from Dylan Thomas (1914-1953). The group's songs were based on texts by the author of the famous play Under Milk Wood—again surprisingly unique—and its first album, Under The Mile Off Moon (available as vinyl plus download only) will soon be released worldwide.

This first encounter shed a light on the ILK Collectiveand its artistic and musical layout. ILK—Independent Label Kopenhagen—is a collective founded 10 years ago by a group of young musicians in order to create an independent manner to record, document, distribute and perform their own music. As drummer Kresten Osgood put it: "It started because everybody got fed up with the established jazz labels and started to produce their own albums and create their own labels. A lot of these small labels were finally combined into ILK, which is a record label and a musicians' collective."

A stable number of 20 musicians are now members of the collective: Anders Banke (bcl/ts); Anders Filipsen; Elena Setien; Francesco Bigoni; Jacob Anderskov, Jeppe Skovbakke; Jesper Lovdal; Kresten Osgood; Laura Toxværd, Lotte Anker; Mark Solborg; Nils Bo Davidsen; Peter Bruun; Qarin Wikström; Simon Toldam; Stefan Pasborg; Stephan Sieben; Sture Ericson; Søren Kjærgaard and Torben Snekkestad.


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