STLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Spotlight on Lotte Anker


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This week, our video spotlight shines on Danish saxophonist and composer Lotte Anker, who will be making her St. Louis debut Thursday, March 14 in a concert presented by New Music Circle at 560 Music Center.

Though Anker seems to be known in this country more as a improvisor, in Denmark she also has composed music incorporating jazz and contemporary classical influences for a variety of groups and projects. Anker works most frequently in Europe, and collaborates with a number of different musicians from her home country, but in St. Louis she'll perform with a trio featuring two Americans, drummer Gerald Cleaver and keyboard player Craig Taborn.

Taborn, whose notable credits include Chris Potter's Underground, Dave Holland's quartet Prism, and the bands of saxophonists James Carter, Roscoe Mitchell, and Tim Berne, is widely regarded as one of the top electric keyboard players in jazz today. Cleaver has worked with many notable musicians, too, including Mitchell, guitarists Joe Morris and David Torn, bassist Miroslav Vitous, and many others.

Anker was born in 1958 in Copenhagen and studied music at Copenhagen University. She formed her first quintet with pianist Mette Petersen in 1988, and has developed many other musical associations over the years. With pianist Marilyn Crispell, she serves as one of the co-leaders of the Copenhagen Art Ensemble, and Anker also has worked frequently in various groups with percussionist Marilyn Mazur.

Other key collaborators have included guitarist Hasse Poulsen, bassist Peter Friis-Nielsen, and trombonist Ture Larsen. Anker has worked with many other European and American musicians as well, and also has written music for several theater and dance productions. In addition to recording as a side musician and co-leader, she has made four albums as a leader, plus three more with Taborn and Cleaver, the most recent being 2009's Floating Islands.

While many of the videos of the Anker/Taborn/Cleaver trio that are available online are short snippets, just a minute or two long, there is one longer clip, a half-hour excerpt from a concert in 2011 at Barbes, a performance space in Brooklyn, NYC. That's today's first video, in the embedded window up above.

Down below, there's are five more clips showing Anker playing with various other combinations of musicians, starting with an excerpt recorded at a Danish jazz festival in 2010. It features her with pianist Søren Kjærgaard, saxophonists Jesper Løvdal and Nils Bo Davidsen, bassist Peter Friis Nielsen, and drummers Kresten Osgood and Claus Bøje.

The next clip also is from 2010, and shows Anker, electronic musician Iku Mori (who played in St. Louis last year with the Mephista Trio) and drummer Steve Noble at a gig in the UK. Below that, there's video from a 2012 duo performance by Anker and Mori.

The last two videos feature Anker with two more larger ensembles. In the fifth position, you can see her with fellow Danish musicians Sture Ericson and Jeppe Højgaard on saxophones, Jeppe Zeberg on piano, Tapani Toivanen and Jesper Thorn on basses, and Mads Forsby and Magnus Jochumsen on drums and percussion.

The sixth and final clip show Anker performing in Copenhagen with the What River Ensemble, a multi-national group of improvisors and composers that includes Mori, Chris Cutler, Phil Minton, Fred Frith, Garth Knox, Anna Klett, and Jesper Egelund.

For more about Lotte Anker, check out this profile, written in 2009 by Celeste Sunderland for


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