PREVIEW: Sounds Of Denmark (13-17 September, Pizza Express Jazz Club)


Editor-at-Large Peter Bacon enjoys a Danish selection with his morning coffee.

The impossible is going to be attempted in mid-September: squeezing a whole country into a jazz club. Well, not exactly a whole city, but a representative number of musicians from that country. It’s not the first time it’s been tried – last year’s Sounds Of Denmark was clearly a resounding success.

The jazz roots go deep in Denmark, back to when Stan Getz and Dexter Gordon lived there, back to when Albert Ayler and Cecil Tayor recorded there, and back before then, to when Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Palle Mikkelborg and John Tchicai were born…

But Sounds Of Denmark is about what is happening in the country today, and the diversity of the Danish jazz scene is one of its hallmarks. It’s difficult to reflect that diversity in eight bands, but the programmers of this year’s festival have had a good crack at it.

Mads Mathias

The Firebirds take their name from Stravinsky and their repertoire from classical composers including Igor himself that saxophonist Anders Banke, drummer Stefan Pasborg and Anders Filipsen on keyboards then improvise upon.

The Makiko Hirabayashi Trio highlights how a city like Copenhagen is a magnet for creative artists from around the world. The Japanese pianist/composer who has made here home there has the celebrated Danish percussionist Marilyn Mazur in her band along with bassist Klavs Hovman.

The six-piece KutiMangoes take their inspiration from Fela Kuti, Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman and forge a new sound from these eclectic sources. Their last album was recorded in Burkina Faso and Mali. There will be dancing.

The music of West Africa has also had a strong impact on the electronic trio plus drums of Kalaha. DJ Gilles Peterson is a big fan.

Jacob Anderskov’s Resonance, led by the award-winning composer and pianist, revives the Third Stream concept forged by Gunther Schuller back in the 1950s, with a string trio interacting with Anderskov’s piano and the drums of Peter Bruun.

The big star of the weekend is singer, saxophonist and songwriter Mads Mathias, a familiar and much loved performer in the UK. Brian Blain, on this site, has called him “a truly gifted artist”. He has a new album to promote but will also be singing songs from his award-winning debut disc Free Falling.

Søren Bebe Trio

Fitting neatly into the Scandinavian piano trio tradition is the Søren Bebe Trio, Bebe’s compositions taking a leaf out of the Bill Evans book of harmony and applying it sometimes to folk-influenced melodies. With Kasper Tagel on bass and Anders Mogensen on drums, the new record is called Home.

Winding up the five days is the Snorre Kirk Quintet, with a classic line-up of two horns, piano, bass and drums, the subtle twist coming in the fact that Tobias Wiklund plays cornet. Also with Kirk, leading from the drums, are Jan Harbeck on tenor, Magnus Hjorth on piano and Lasse Mørck on double bass.

The full timetable of these bands at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street, London, is on the link below.

LINK: Sounds Of Denmark at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Categories: miscellaneous

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