Danish guitarist and composer KRISTIAN BORRING has a new album (Silent Storm on the Jellymould label) with his long-standing quartet and a UK tour coming up. He spoke to Peter Bacon.
LondonJazz News: What attracted you to study and then settle in the UK, and what do you consider the major strengths of the UK jazz scene?
Kristian Borring: I chose to finish my studies in London at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama because I knew the city had a great vibe and was a “happening” place for jazz. I didn’t really know much about the British scene as a whole and more than 10 years later I am still learning the history. But the UK scene has a huge focus on original music but with a great jazz tradition to build it on. The level is super high and musicians are hungry for playing across many styles.
LJN: This is your third release to feature these same players – what are the benefits of maintaining a cohesive band?
KB: I guess like in any workspace if a group of people gets along professionally and socially it doesn’t just make life easier, it also makes it more fun, especially when you travel. I feel that we have created a trust and honesty both verbally and musically that I enjoy. Also when your band knows your catalogue of music it allows you to be a little more spontaneous on gigs.
LJN: How do you compose and where do you find your inspiration to write new music?
KB: I compose mainly on the guitar and sometimes on the piano. The process varies. I can be composing with a vague idea in mind and work at it with structure. I get a lot of my ideas from exploring rhythmic or harmonic material that I am curious about and so some of my compositions need meticulous creation with trial and error and attention to detail. Other tunes come to me more naturally when I pick up my guitar or sit down at the piano with no intention of composing. When that happens I try and drop everything and keep the flow open to let the music write itself, so to speak.
LJN: There are suggestions on this disc of some rock and fusion influences – where do these come from?
KB: I came to the guitar through blues and hard rock, like BB King, AC/DC and Van Halen. I think they all had soul and vibe in their own way. I copied bands like Nirvana and Alice In Chains. And then came Radiohead. But at the same time I was digging those more virtuosic players like Joe Satriani. That quickly bridged into an interest for fusion with the Pat Metheny Group, Brecker Brothers and Chick Corea. I was listening to bebop and really wanted to learn to play that way but I still had a lot to learn, so I guess the whole fusion genre helped me explore new ground while using my more advanced rock “chops”.
LJN: You recently paid homage to Jim Hall, but who are the other musicians from whom you feel you have learned most, or who have been most influential on your music?
KB: Oh boy, I find it very hard to single out my influences after years of learning and listening. I guess I studied Metheny and Scofield a lot when I was younger and of course Wes Montgomery. I have more Coltrane albums than any other artist. Ornette Coleman is a big inspiration too, also for composition, his work up until the ‘70s. I love the melodic development and sound of alto players Konitz and Desmond and I find 20th century composers like, Alban Berg, Stravinsky and Charles Ives very inspirational. I listen a lot to pianists for phrasing, harmony and composition, Mehldau, Herbie, Garland and Powell. Of musicians I have actually studied with in person, Dutch guitarists Jesse Van Ruller and Martijn van Iterson both had a big influence while I went to Music College in Amsterdam. I took lessons with Peter Bernstein in New York who approaches the instrument in a very natural and musical way. I have learned a lot from my peers too.