Features/Interviews (PP)

Sounds of Denmark (14-16 Sept. 2022)

The fifth edition of Sounds Of Denmark, returning to the UK after a two-year hiatus, will run from 14 -16 September 2022. Concerts will be at Turner Sims in Southampton and at Pizza Express Jazz Club in London. Dan Paton considers the impressive range of music on offer:

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Sounds of Denmark poster. RKDIA (photo left) are Morten Schantz (synth+vocals) and Anton Eger (drums)

Sounds of Denmark presents a small cross section of an intriguing and engaging jazz scene, featuring some names that will already familiar to UK jazz audiences and some that will most likely be new.

The 2022 event begins with a double bill of two duos (Svaneborg Kardyb and RKDIA) at Turner Sims in Southampton. It is notable that this also comes with two schools concerts attached, providing an excellent opportunity for young people to experience this music. (BOOKING LINK BELOW)

The showcase then moves to the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London for two nights, with Svaneborg Kardyb performing on Thursday 15 September and performances by Bevort3 and RKDIA on Friday 16 September.

It is certainly correct that the event should be named Sounds of Denmark in the plural. This is not an attempt to establish a spurious Danish national sound or musical character. Instead, even with a limited number of artists involved, it exhibits an impressively wide range of musical approaches and sound worlds. Svaneborg Kardyb and RKDIA are both duos drawing from both contemporary improvised music and electronica, but that may well be where the comparisons end. Bevort3 are a high quality acoustic trio (saxophone, bass and drums), emphasising interaction, texture and creative expression.

Svaneborg Kardyb. Photo credit: Michell Smedegaard Boysen

Svaneborg Kardyb combine the skills of Nikolaj Svaneborg (Wurlitzer, Juno, piano) and Jonas Kardyb (drums and percussion). The pair perform facing each other, demonstrating the importance of interaction in their music, although their light, lush and spacious sound seems to be as reminiscent of atmospheric electronic acts such as Air or Zero 7 as it is of subtle, quietly melancholic modern jazz groups such as the late Esbjorn Svensson’s trio. The sound is equally as informed by the textures of percussion as it is by the inherent qualities of the Wurlitzer or Juno keyboards. Jonas Kardyb makes frequent use of hand percussion as well as the rims and shells of his drums. His disciplined restraint and delicate touch ensure a sense of relaxed control. Svaneborg uses loops and sustain effects to enhance the atmosphere, over which he often explores the upper register of the keyboard, creating a shimmering sense of cautious discovery. The resulting whole is beguiling and mesmerising.

Pernille Bevort. Photo credit: Jan Lindegaard Hansen

Saxophonist Pernille Bevort is a graduate of the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, although the music she makes with her trio does not overly focus on rhythmic tricksiness. Rather, it feels like a fresh and contemporary update on some of the core, enduring values of modern jazz. There are driving grooves, intricate melodies, fleet and graceful improvising and, perhaps most refreshingly, plenty of trading with the drums. In a trio without a chordal instrument, bass and drums of course have an even more fundamental role, and Morten Ankarfeldt and Espen Laub von Lillienskjold frequently create tension and excitement. The trio is also deft at handling ballads, and ‘Theme For Ernie’ is one example of Bevort’s striking and memorable compositions.

The two members of RKDIA, drummer Anton Eger and keyboardist Morten Schantz, are already well known musicians in the UK. Audiences will know Eger through his work with Phronesis and Marius Neset and immediately recognise his peerless movement and dexterity around the drums, alongside a frightening degree of accuracy. His ability to use this technical facility to create musical tension and propulsion is what makes him such an exciting musician to watch. Morten Schantz’s album Godspeed came out here via the Edition label in 2017, introducing his delight in exploring the possibilities of keyboards and synthesisers. RKDIA come with neon branding and illustrated avatars that hint at a retrofuturist love of arcade games, animation and pop culture, Eger has co-created something very different from the other musical ensembles in which he participates. As with Svaneborg Kardyb, the sound is in part defined by the nature of the synthesisers and keyboards that Schantz deploys, but the results here are not simply bright, but effervescent sometimes to the point of being dazzling or garish. There are genuinely infectious pop songs (‘Iris’), but also some exploration of the precise kind of intricate hits and rhythmic organisation admirers of Marius Neset will enjoy (‘Shelter’).

Sounds of Denmark 2022 presents a fascinating and wide-ranging line-up that should appeal to open minded listeners. While there is an obvious contrast between Bevort’s acoustic trio and the more keyboard-oriented sounds of the two duos, a consistent thread running through all three acts is the possibilities for broader orchestration within small groups. Seeing how each act approaches this in live performance will no doubt be thrilling.

For those seeking to explore a broader interest in the development of jazz in Denmark, there is also the excellent and detailed Dangerous Sounds podcast series (LINK HERE) – now available in English at and through a variety of platforms.

PP features are part of marketing packages. Sounds of Denmark is a cooperation between JazzDanmark, PizzaExpress Jazz Club and Sue Edwards Management with support from the Danish Embassy in London, the Ministry of Culture and the Danish Arts Foundation.

LINKS: Details and booking for Turner Sims

Sounds of Denmark at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Danish Embassy Sounds of Denmark homepage

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