Jakob Bro Trio with Anders Christensen and Brian Blade
(Flagey Studio 1, Brussels. Sunday 4 September 2022. Fourth night of four. Live review by Dick Hovenga(*)
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Dick Hovenga, who runs the Dutch site Written in Music was at Studio 1 at Flagey in Brussels for all four nights of live recording in front of an audience by the Jakob Bro Trio, to be made into an album for ECM. Dick has written reports in Dutch of each of the four nights. (*) This is an English translation of his report on the fourth and final night, on which, as he explains, everything coalesced .
Being present to witness an album being created from scratch is a magical experience. A first evening when the musicians are finding their way because they have never shared a stage together before, then an evening of exuberantly experiencing the fact that they are playing together, then an evening of reflection in which the search for each other morphs into establishing how far they are in the process – and then the final evening in which everything coincides.
The fourth evening of Jakob Bro, Anders Christensen and Brian Blade in the beautiful Studio 1 of Flagey, Brussels, can safely be called the place where the new album of Jakob Bro found its definitive form. From the first tones of Bro you could feel that this was going to be a perfect set. The search to find a balance in all of the pieces, the way each should be played, all that had already been settled. A new album was born.
Really everything about Sunday night, the fourth night, was right. The sound was once again perfect (what a joy that both the musicians on stage and the audience in the hall can hear everything that is happening) and the musicians were not just relaxed but also focused.
The entire arsenal of compositions which had been tried out on the previous night took a definite shape on this evening. Bro had worked his way into an extraordinarily creative mood during these days in Brussels, trying out new pieces every day, and this evening was no different. So on the last evening we just got a beautifully atmospheric new piece to end the programme with. Bizarrely enough, it was also among the most gorgeous things we heard.
A lot more has been recorded over the past few days than will fit on a single album. The mix of subdued pieces and more groovy pieces (that can’t be helped with Christensen on bass and Blade on drums) will find its form in the coming weeks at home in Copenhagen when listening back. I’m very curious to find out what will come out of that process.
The great class of the musicians individually and their exceptional chemistry together could be experienced for four evenings. It was an extraordinary experience to gain that kind of insight into the recording an album.
Some people were smart enough to come on the first or second night and also catch a later one. That was absolutely the way to do it. You saw completely different concerts for four nights and those who were there for more than one night will have different memories of which one was their favorite.
Looking back now, it was the second night which was the most exciting. It was the night when Blade, well rested after his long trip from Louisiana the day before, and which led straight into the first concert, gathered together his true force, and really gave the trio wings with his great drumming. It was also the evening on which Christensen played his beautiful bass lines nice and deep and where Bro sounded really solid in the heavier parts and drew the trio into psychedelic spheres.
That second evening where the subdued pieces contrasted exceptionally well with the heavier pieces can, as far as I’m concerned, go down in the books as one of the most beautiful Bro concerts ever. The Sunday can go down in the books as the day on which everything that had been tried and tested the previous three days fell completely into place. This was a more or less the perfect concert, in which the musicians played loose and free and had fully mastered the form of the compositions.
The fact that Flagey is such a perfect place to record an album has been clear for a long time. All the right conditions are in place, from the location to the superb team who work there. The four days of trying out this new concept with Bro, Christensen and Blade was an exceptional musical experience. And, since it was also the opening event of Flagey’s new music season, it felt even more special. It would be a pity if this concept doesn’t become a permanent fixture in Flagey’s annual programme. I’ll certainly be there for it every time!