Feature/Interview

Kathrine Windfeld (Ronnie Scott’s, 15 November, 2021 EFG LJF)

Danish pianist, composer, and arranger Kathrine Windfeld is a rising star of European jazz. In January 2020 she won the “LetterOne ‘RISING STARS’ Jazz Award” Europe Edition. This prize involves a tour to several top festivals in Europe. This will bring her and her band to Ronnie Scott’s on 15 November as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. Preview by Charles Rees: 

Kathrine Windfeld. Publicity photo by V. Osypenko

London Jazz News: Tell us about the music which you will be bringing to London? (Have you adapted the ORCA music for sextet or will it be new work?)

Kathrine Windfeld: Yes, we will partly be playing tunes from my album ORCA. Many of my big band tunes can work for sextet as well – in re-arranged forms – often leaving more space for solos. I enjoy playing my tunes in different constellations – but of course, some of my big band tunes are too complex and symphonic in the texture to fit a three-horn section.

LJN: Has your sextet had stable personnel? 

KW: Mostly, but the lineup has changed a couple of times over the years in accordance with my own musical development. It’s very exciting and important to play with musicians who understand your visions and can take the tunes to a new level. 

LJN: You have always had Polish people in your bands  – what’s the story?

KW: Many outstanding young Polish musicians have come to Denmark to study at our conservatories. They have become an important part of the Danish jazz scene, contributing with technical virtuosity and an open-minded spirit. I don’t want to generalize, since they are all strong individuals, but I think they have a high level of artistic integrity in common: a natural approach to free forms and odd meter material and not only sticking to traditional jazz language. And that’s exactly what my music needs. 

LJN: What opportunities has the Letter One Prize given you? …And is there still more to come from it? 

KW: The award has been a milestone on my musical journey in terms of gigs and press coverage. It has been fantastic to meet big audiences outside Scandinavia and develop our group sound. It’s hard to tell if we will manage to play more gigs in that context since Covid numbers are rising again. But in the meantime, we have been booked for a project in Brazil and recently went to play in Iceland. We’re working on a Poland-Germany tour in 2022 too, so I feel very optimistic!

LJN: You said three years ago that listening to other musicians had been very rewarding… is that still the case, and who have you been listening to recently?

KW: Indeed, I think it’s inevitable for all musicians to learn from others. Recently, I transcribed an incredible Chris Potter solo from his album “Pure” and was spellbound by his lines and harmonic approach. Now and then I return to one of my all-time heroes, Kurt Rosenwinkel, who has created so many outstanding tunes in a hyper-advanced harmonic language. He is a master of combining a catchy riff with sophisticated changes and unpredictable lines.

LJN: What other projects apart from the sextet are current for you? 

KW: I have just released my fourth big band album, this time with the great Swedish Bohuslän Big Band who ordered 8 tunes from me. In 2022 I will be visiting Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, maybe Brazil as guest composer, and my own big band will be playing in Portugal as well as a handful of gigs in Scandinavia. 

LJN: Are there album plans…? 

KW: Since I just released “Determination” with new compositions for a full-size big band in October (DETAILS HERE), I have no other release plans at the moment. But I am playing piano as a sideman on two other releases in 2022. 

LJN: And other wishes / ambitions…?

KW: I am always looking for new projects and opportunities to play my music with exciting musicians and ensembles around the world. I am working consistently every day on my projects and general conception of music – either practising or composing, arranging or checking out new music. 

LINKS: Kathrine Windfeld’s website

Ronnie Scott’s bookings for 15 November

Kathrine Windfeld’s sextet is performing in a two-part “Letter One Rising Stars” evening at Ronnie Scott’s which will also present Israeli trumpeter Itamar Borochov

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