Marilyn Mazur Group
(Dansepavillon, Karens Minde Kulturhus, Sydhavnen, 13th July 2012, Copenhagen Jazz Festival)
The Copenhagen Jazz Festival does not confine itself to the city centre. A fast train, then a bus, and a walk through a housing project led me to this wooden “Dansepavillon” in a park, among weeping willows. People in the city don’t get to this place. Yes, they drive past it on the highway to the tunnel to Sweden. They have, in my experience, heard of this place, but not actually been. Out in the outer suburbs there are no designer hi-fi shops. It’s just ordinary people, eating their supper at formica tables. The person sitting to my left had brought a fly-fishing catalogue to the gig. The person to my right was trying to introduce good music to a tyrannical, completely unimpressable, blonde three year-old.
I discovered that the dance pavilion, a construction like a circus tent, built completely of wood, had originally been commissioned to sit in the grounds of a mental hospital. When the mental hospital closed, the people from the Karens Milde cultural centre had decided to rescue it, and place it in a park. On a sunny summer’s evening with open access from most sides, it’s a friendly community space. Quite the place, then, to hear a true legend…
Percussionist Marilyn Mazur, eight times Downbeat Critics’ Poll winner, was a regular member of Miles Davis’ bands in the late 1980’s. She also worked extensively at that time with Gil Evans and Wayne Shorter. There’s a substantial ECM discography, among others, several with Jan Garbarek. The most recent ECM production is a nice album from 2010 with singer Josefine Cronholm and pianist John Taylor.
The band appearing at the jazz festival is what here agent’s website describes as Mazur’s “intimate Scandinavian musical family”. The stage of the Dansepavillon was so small, it was indeed intimate. The stand was almost entirely taken up with Mazur’s vast panoply of percussion. In the more ambient moments she ambulates round it. She picks a gong or another object to hit, always producing an unexpected sound. Her expression as she does so always full of intent and joy. In the substantial sections when the band settles into a groove she gets back behind the kit, powers the tempo with the assurance of person who has been leading bands for decades. There were calypsos, shuffles, all kinds of nice contrasts. Sometimes she sings, adds a characterful voice to the melodic line. She always gives that mesmerising sense of music being completely lived.
Another strong melodic voice was that of Frederik Lindin, who (mainly) plays tenor saxophone. The influence of Garbarek in his tone is palpable. He proved himself on zippy excursions up into altissimo to be strongly equipped technically, reminiscent of the style of Marius Neset – I wondered if there was a link (?) The real surprise, though, was the scale and the warmth of his sound, with a real presence and shape to it, on bass flute.Bassist Klavs Hovman, Mazur’s husband, played both a stick bass (nothing larger would fit on that tiny stage – it’s not listed among the extensive list of gear on his website) and a powerful driving electric, bass. He took strong solos going high, and blended beautifully with the guitar/ effects of Swedish musician Krister Jonsson.
In these pleasant, friendly, unusual surroundings, the legend that is Marilyn Mazur lives on.