Jaga Jazzist — What We Must / Spydeberg Sessions
(Ninja Tune ZEN103, 2005, 2CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01This Norwegian band has been refining their particular brand of jazz (if that’s what you want to call it) for nearly ten years now, and while some things remain the same from their beginnings, others have progressed. They still play a music unmistakably rooted in jazz, though with electronic elements added, mallet instruments provide sonic variety, and guitar functions often as a melodic instrument mixed in with the horns. What We Must starts out with a short ramp up to a wall of sound, with a mass of keyboard and guitar backing a melody in the horns, with an insistent rhythm in the drums. When the backing drops out, we get the melody relatively unadorned, and it has a slight bossa nova feeling to it, showing what a difference an arrangement can make. The track ends with a bit of meditative distorted electric guitar. One thing this band is very good at is building intensity slowly over the course of several minutes – I’m reminded of Godspeed You Black Emperor (insert ! after random word) only with a jazz flavor. I find the combination of horns with pulsing marimbas and quirky guitar noises really fascinating. This is not a band prone to flashy solos, more a unit that works out interesting arrangements and textures. The Spydeberg Sessions is a short CD with demo versions (recorded “live in the same room and mixing on the go”) of four of the tracks from What We Must. The great qualities of the tunes are there, though with less of the studio sheen, and a little more whimsy. “Stardust Hotel” has some great goofball synth work on it that didn’t make the final cut, but is wonderful in its own way. This band should be making some inroads with the post-rock crowd as well as jazz buffs who aren’t stuck back in bebop.
Related artist(s): Jaga Jazzist
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more