All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Profiles

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Jakob Bro: Searching for Beauty Through Sound

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
Beauty is perhaps one of the most common words used in association with music, but it is also one of the vaguest terms in musical criticism, and it rarely says something substantial about the work that is described. And yet, despite its intangible character, it would be almost impossible to characterize Danish guitarist Jakob Bro's music as anything else than beautiful. In the aesthetic universe of Bro, beauty becomes synonymous with the process of artistic creation. It is the attempt to find a musical form that both is born within tradition and lies outside it. It is the will to find the space between composition and improvisation, the fleeting moment that is allowed to blossom and become something that exists both within and out of time.

While still relatively young, Bro (born in 1978) has come a long way on his journey into sound. He has played with the legendary drummer Paul Motian, trumpeters Tomasz Stanko and Tom Harrell, saxophonists Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano and Mark Turner and fellow guitarist Bill Frisell, just to name a few. However, it is characteristic of Bro that he collaborates with musicians that erase themselves in the music. The quality of having a distinctive musical voice while still being able to immerse himself in the music is something that Bro shares with the artists he has played with. To Bro, playing music is a voyage of constant discovery.



Chapter Index
    Beginnings: Big Band and Breaking out of School to Learn Music

    The New York Jazz Scene and Paul Motian

    Making Records and Working as a Sideman

    Writing a New Kind of Contemporary Music

    Creating Bro/Knak and Working with the Trio


Beginnings: Big Band and Breaking out of School to Learn Music

From the beginning, music was an important part of Bro's life: "I played trumpet at an early age. My father had a big band, and has always taught music. We had all kinds of instruments in the house. So there has always been a lot of music. I played the tambourine with my father's big band before I even learned to walk. The next step was to pick up the trumpet. I became a member of a youth orchestra and played there for a few years, and later it evolved into a position in the big band. I also played the trumpet in church, and it was a challenge playing in front of an audience because I was really shy, and this is something I have thought about recently. Playing music, you have to be on stage a lot— and in a way, it is a strange situation—being on a scene, but it is a situation I have learned to deal with."

Bro's transition from trumpet to guitar came about when he began listening to guitarist Jimi Hendrix in the sixth grade and started to explore rock music. There was a period when he played both trumpet and guitar, but gradually the guitar became his only instrument, and he started playing guitar in the big band as well as in a rock group. The change from trumpet to guitar marked an increased interest in music that culminated during his first year in high school, when he started to play fusion, and he listened to the records that his father brought home, among them albums by guitarists John Scofield and Pat Martino. There was a situation where Bro was driving home with his father and told him that he might as well break out of school and focus on music because this was what he wanted to do. His parents—especially his mother—weren't too fond of the idea and wanted him to get an education, but in a way this only made it clearer to the guitarist that this was a path that he had to pursue on his own.

Jakob Bro—Bro/KnakBro began studying in a jazz school in Aarhus and later attended the Royal Academy of Music when he was only 17: "The most important thing that happened to me in that period was when I lived in Aarhus and met drummer Rune Kielsgaard and bassist Eske Nørrelykke. I was part of the musical environment and listened to pianist Heine Hansen at the jazz venue Bent J. He was incredibly talented and played with the best. It was a world that fascinated me and a place where I felt that I could go if I wanted to play. I started to jam with Rune and Eske and played a lot of concerts with them."

The relationship with Rune Kielsgaard and Eske Nørrelykke developed through a rigorous regimen of practice and performances, and the more formal education at The Royal Academy of Music was set aside. Eventually, the three decided to leave Denmark in favor of Berklee College of Music. At this point, Bro had already been noticed by musicians like saxophonist Michael Brecker and Danish pianist Carsten Dahl, whom Bro idolized. He had also played with Danish saxophonist Jacob Dinesen, an experience that meant a lot. There was a concert at the restaurant Mefisto that was really special to Bro. Kurt Rosenwinkel, whom Dinesen knew from Berklee, was in town and played with the group, and later he told Bro that it was a wonderful experience and that he had to come to New York to play with him. Rosenwinkel even said that, hearing Bro, he had "somehow found a clue to how guitar and music should be played." This was an amazing boost to the young guitarist.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read "Aretha Franklin, The Lady Soul: 1942 - 2018" Profiles Aretha Franklin, The Lady Soul: 1942 - 2018
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 17, 2018
Read "Remembering Tomasz Stanko" Profiles Remembering Tomasz Stanko
by AAJ Staff
Published: July 29, 2018
Read "Kuumbwa And The Magic of Monday Night" Profiles Kuumbwa And The Magic of Monday Night
by Arthur R George
Published: July 2, 2018
Read "The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen" Profiles The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen
by Gloria Krolak
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "On Stage at JALC: Paul Jost" Profiles On Stage at JALC: Paul Jost
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: June 23, 2018