It is a harder-hitting ten-piece collective that return with their third album in early April. Jaga Jazzist has previously been associated with improvisation and electronica, but it is a more rock-oriented band that’s now eager to hit European concert stages. Reportedly, Jaga’s new sound is closer to their live appearances than on earlier outings, and it is said that one can trace influences from such different musical styles as British shoegazer pop and 70`s prog rock. The album is titled ‘What We Must’ and contains 7 songs produced by hot German producer Marcus Schmickler and Norwegian star producer Kåre Chr. Vestrheim. With no boundaries and an arsenal that includes trumpets, trombone, electric guitar, bass, tuba, two bass clarinets, Fender Rhodes, vibraphone and a rack of electronics, Jaga Jazzist create timeless music. Melodic, hypnotizing, delicate and subtle but also in-your-face, hard-hitting and complex.
The album will be released through Smalltown Supersound/Sonet/Universal in Norway and by Smalltown Supersound/Ninja Tune in the rest of the world. The releasedate is the 4th of April.
The Jaga story begins in the mid-sized town of Tønsberg in the southern part of Norway, some ten and a half years ago. A collective of friends with a mutual interest in jazz and related sounds gather to listen to records and ultimately start to jam and write tunes. The informal jams and listening sessions soon grew to become a band that would change the Norwegian jazz and club scene over the next decade.
Jaga’s debut in the recorded format came in the form of an EP titled ‘Jævla Jazzist Grete Stitz’, released in 1996 and now sold out. In 1998 dBut Records released their second outing, the ‘Magazine EP’ – recently re-released to great critical acclaim on Smalltown Supersound. The collective’s debut album and definitive break-through came in 2001 with ‘A Livingroom Hush’. The album, recorded and mixed in Bergen’s Duper Studios and produced by Jørgen Træen, was released by Warner in Norway but it was London’s legendary indie Ninja Tunes that was to secure the world-wide rights of the album. ‘A Livingroom Hush’ sold nearly to gold in Norway and was voted Jazz album of the Year by BBC Music. Jaga’s second full-length album ‘The Stix’ saw its domestic release in August 2002 and the international release the next spring. ‘The Stix’ reached no. 3 on the domestic sales charts, and was met with very strong reviews at home and abroad. Jaga have followed up on the strong album reviews with highly successful tours in Europe, USA and Canada.
The list of albums that feature contributions from Jaga members can be read as an overview of the last decades’ most central Norwegian releases. String arrangements, horn section playing, electronic assistance, production and session work by Jaga members have secured critical acclaim and a bit of that magical touch for such acts as Cato Salsa Experience, Turbonegro, Motorpsycho, Euroboys, d’Sound, Cloroform, Briskeby, Ricochets, Big Bang and King Midas.
Over the years a number of players have joined and exited the ranks of Jaga Jazzist, and the collective now counts ten members: Mathias Eick (trumpet, double bass, keys), Harald Frøland (guitars + effects), Even Ormestad (bass + keys), Andreas Mjøs (vibraphone, guitars, percussion + electronics), Line Horntveth (tuba + percussion), Martin Horntveth (drums + drum-machines), Lars Horntveth (tenor sax, bass-clarinet, guitars + keys), Andreas Schei (keyboards), Ketil Einarsen (flutes, Wind Controller, percussion + keys) and Lars Wabø (trombone + percussion).
One of the factors that can explain the collective’s loyal following lies in the live shows. Nothing can beat a fuelled and energetic ten-piece strong ensemble blowing at full force. Propelled by the complex yet driven drumming courtesy of Martin Horntveth, mated with tasteful keyboard work, carefully edited loops and samples and a topped off with tight horn section, Jaga’s tunes are definitely delivered in a package that few, if any other ensembles can match. The compositional skills of brothers Lars and Martin (who write the bulk of the tunes) are well developed with a strong sense of melody and an ability to write odd time changes and polyrhythmic that sound natural and grooving. Jaga bring together a wide range of influences into their coherent and unique concoction: improv, electronica, contemporary, noise, post-rock. A quote from the Wire pretty much sums it all up: “A feast of infectious beats and exciting arrangements delicately resolved with nuance to produce a variety of atmospheric pleasures.”
Two of Jaga Jazzist’s most central members, brothers Lars and Martin Horntveth, experienced a domestic commercial break-through this autumn in the form of the National Bank project that includes such acclaimed performers as vocalist and highly successful solo-artist Thomas Dybdahl and (former Jaga member) keyboardist Morten Qvenild – the second half of duo Susanna and the Magical Orchestra. Spearheaded by the infectious single ‘Tolerate’, the National Bank’s (self-titled) debut album subsequently went to gold and spawned a sold-out domestic tour.
‘What We Must’ is out on Smalltown Supersound/Ninja Tune worldwide on 4 April.
Dates for Jaga Jazzis’s extensive European tour are found in MIC’s calendar section.