9

Jaga Jazzist: Live with Britten Sinfonia

Phil Barnes By

Sign in to view read count
Jaga Jazzist: Jaga Jazzist: Live with Britten Sinfonia Norwegian collective Jaga Jazzist don't sit comfortably within genre boundaries. Their earlier UK Ninja Tune releases like A Livingroom Hush (2001) and The Stix (2003) suggested a marriage of jazz texture with glitchy, breakbeat driven electronica in a way that was both diverting and interesting, if likely to incite the wrath of the more traditional jazz fan were it to be described as more than "jazz influenced." Later records such as 2005's What We Must and 2008's One Armed Bandit showed a more noticeable prog-jazz influence, that has become increasingly modish in jazz circles over recent years (e.g. the UK's own Troyka), and it is the latter set that versions of four of the eight tracks are drawn from here.

The collaboration with the Britten Sinfonia came about following an introduction from BBC Radio 3's Fiona Talkington, mainstay of that station's fab Late Junction programme for open minded insomniacs. Two shows were held during 2012, one at the Barbican in London and one in Oslo's Rockefeller Plaza, and this wonderful disc is a record of the event. While we are usually cautioned to not judge a record by its cover—here it is instructively literal. The cover is a performance shot of the live set made to look like a 3D picture or film—the clear implication being that the album will open out greater space in the recordings allowing you the opportunity to better appreciate and luxuriate in the depth of the different musical levels and textures here. And so it mostly is.

Older pieces like closer "Oslo Skyline" deliver on the promise of dynamic space and musical "crunch" in the original studio recordings, while new piece "Prungen" suggests an intriguing eastern influence. The two killer tracks, however, are the extended versions of "One-Armed Bandit" and "Banafluer Overalt"—the latter even feels reminiscent of Miles Davis and Gil Evans' collaborations in its opening segment. Both of these tracks are an almighty stew of different musics—from movie themes like John Barry's "Ipcress File" or Roy Budd's "Get Carter" through Steve Reich's modern orchestral works to the subtle, soulful electronica of the Cinematic Orchestra or even United Future Organisation. All of this would be for nothing if it were not such an accessible listen—there's enough in the initial plays to snag the attention, yet further repetitions reveal much additional detail that indicates that the music will continue to engage and interest over an extended period.

The reason for this is the absolutely staggering multi instrumental virtuosity of Jaga Jazzist—the sleeve notes list the nine members as playing some 33 instruments between them during the live performance and that, of course, is before we have even mentioned the Britten Sinfonia! So, for instance, the likes of Mathias Eick, who has recorded a couple of ECM CDs as band leader with his primary instrument as trumpet, features not only on that instrument but also on upright bass, keyboards, piano and vibraphone.

When we have one of the albums of the year here does it matter that its genre doesn't fit cosily into the existing media channels? Creatively of course not, but in an increasingly conservative jazz marketplace you have to wonder how much longer it will be possible to make large ensemble records like this—the sheer cost of staging such events would appear to be prohibitive. Yet if we are to take the music to a new audience in these austere times we need acts like Jaga Jazzist to have the commercial backing to follow their creative impulses. Regrettably it appears that most of our major record companies are content to repackage the greats of the 1950s and 1960s in ever more lavish curatorial box sets rather than seek out fresh talent to offset the double whammy of the 50 year copyright rule and illegal downloads.


Track Listing: One-Armed Bandit; Kitty Wu; Prungen; Bananfluer Overalt; For All You Happy People; Toccata; Music! Dance! Drama!; Oslo Skyline.

Personnel: Marcus Foresgren: electric guitar and FX; Andreas Mjos: vibraphone, guitar, Korg MS10 & percussion; Martin Horntveth: drums; Lars Horntveth: guitars, Bb & bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, flute, Roland SH-2, piano & lap steel guitar; Line Horntveth: tuba, flute, percussion, glockenspiel and vocals; Even Ormestad: bass & keyboards; Mathias Eick: trumpet, upright bass, keyboards, piano & vibraphone; Oystein Moen: synthesizers & piano.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Ninja Tune | Style: Fringes of Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight Extended Analysis Tim Bowness: Lost in the Ghostlight
by John Kelman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017
Read Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix) Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome Extended Analysis The Rolling Stones: Blue and Lonesome
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 27, 2016
Read Nat Birchall: Creation Extended Analysis Nat Birchall: Creation
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Buddy Collette: Four Classic Albums" Extended Analysis Buddy Collette: Four Classic Albums
by David Rickert
Published: April 28, 2016
Read "Akinola Sennon: Cousoumeh" Extended Analysis Akinola Sennon: Cousoumeh
by Nigel Campbell
Published: September 26, 2016
Read "The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl" Extended Analysis The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Tony Williams: Life Time" Extended Analysis Tony Williams: Life Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: July 12, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!