Born: April 11, 1978 Primary Instrument: Guitar
The young guitarist Jakob Bro has not only made an impression on the Danish jazz scene; as part of the group led by legendary drummer Paul Motian, Bro also performs with many top American musicians. These can be heard on the Motian Group's album Garden of Eden (ECM 2006), where Bro enters a musical soundscape whose intense and atmospheric expression he has carried over into his own music.
Motian's way of writing and playing music has been a great source of inspiration to me. His melodies and harmonies are fantastically strong, which makes it easy to open up the sound without losing the actual core of the individual compositions.
Bro has never received any musical training besides short periods spent at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, the Berklee College of Music in Boston and New School University in New York. His encounter with the jazz scene in New York, however, has markedly influenced his music. Here he took lessons from Ben Street and Chris Cheek, and gradually made contact with many of the musicians whose records he had admired. One day, this led to a job as guitarist with Paul Motian.
Jakob is really talented ... he did a nice record of his own and he sent it to me. It's really nice; it's really different. (Paul Motian, AllAboutJazz)
The partnership with Motian has also enabled Bro to get some of the leading musicians in jazz to play on his own projects. Mark Turner, Chris Cheek, Ben Street and Paul Motian, for example, all play on Bro's third album in his own name, Pearl River (Loveland 2007).
Success in Denmark
Concurrently with his work with Paul Motian in New York, Bro has also experienced success in Denmark with the groups Bandapart and Beautiful Day. In 2003, he received a Danish Music Award as New Name of the Year for his work as composer and guitarist on the latter band's debut recording Beautiful Day (Music Mecca 2002). In 2006 his status as one of the most interesting names on the young Danish jazz scene was confirmed when his album Sidetracked (Loveland 2006) won in both the category Danish Jazz Release of the Year and Cross-over Release of the Year at the Danish Music Awards.
Music should communicate an atmosphere. Whether it is classical, rock, electronica or a mixture of the three, or some other category entirely, is irrelevant.
On Sidetracked Bro turns his jazz in the direction of an electronic soundscape. The compositions are permeated by a melancholy undertone that is expressed through overwhelming, warm, poetic and atmospheric sounds. The focus is on the homogenous wholeness of the music, which amongst other things means that Bro himself stands well back in the soundscape, playing more the role of the composer than that of a soloist.
I try to create a kind of wholeness when I play and write music, whether on a more or less abstract level. For me it is a major challenge to learn to shape the development of a piece without dictating it, and consequently I very often base my compositions on the sound of the individual musicians that I know will be playing and recording them.
Sidetracked has been called a little masterpiece • a record on which the music may initially seem understated, but which grows in stature every time you hear it. It is a restless kind of music that is at once both electronic and live, and which allows the listener to get close up. Or as one reviewer wrote: An almost dreaming universe of melody and sound with an undergrowth of gentle rhythmic subtlety. (Ib Skovgaard, Weekendavisen)
With his success with the Motian Group and Sidetracked, the future looks bright for Jakob Bro. Upcoming projects include a trio tour with Nasheet Waits and Ben Street, and an extensive task in connection with the cultural exchange project DaNY Arts, for which Bro will write the music for a number of recordings under his own name, and on which other stars such as Bill Frisell, Paul Motian, Andrew D’Angelo, Ben Street, Mark Turner and Chris Cheek and Kurt Rosenwinkel will also perform.
Source: Kaspar Thormod