Primary Instrument: Guitar
There are many ways to record a jazz album. The most common is for the musicians to gather in the studio and interpret the composer’s work, leaving as big an artistic footprint on the recordings as the composer did. That was how Danish musician and composer Jakob Bro did it on his two last records, Balladering and Time. But his new release is in all aspects different.
With this record, Jakob Bro has taken a tremendous detour in his style, in which his lyrical compositions and guitar took center stage. Like Bro’s record from 2005,Sidetracked, BRO / KNAK is woven together in fragments of sound, making a collage of versatile works of art recorded in collaboration with prestigious musicians from all over the world. The release distinguishes itself from others by containing two versions of the same compositions: In one edition, the maverick Jakob Bro has taken complete control over every detail. In the other version the renowned Danish electronic musician, composer and producer Thomas Knak has taken the same feedstock and shaped it into his own edition. The two musicians have come together in mutual respect for one another’s musical aesthetics in order to create a project that both mirrors and dissolves the familiar genres.
A month long collecting of raw sound material started with a line of solo recordings and interpretations by Paul Bley, David Virelles, Jakob Kullberg and Oscar Noriega in June 2011 in New York. Back in Denmark, Jakob Bro began the process of selecting the best material, which left him inspired and led to new directions and recordings. It was not until March 2012 that Bro finished his recordings, and began developing them into a record. The process in between was intentionally left open-ended until the very end. All of the musicians, from Bill Frisell (guitar) to Kenny Wheeler (flugelhorn) to Pamelia Kurstin (theremin), to the rest of the 14 participating musicians agreed on this way of working and trusted Jakob Bro: He had the final say. He maintained the freedom to use their sounds in the way he thought served the music best.
Even though the melodic and beautiful themes are no longer led by Bro’s familiar guitar, and are instead translated into the language of other instruments such as harp, clarinet, piano and cello, the longing and honest sound of Jakob Bro still shines through. One day in December 2011, approximately six months after the first recordings, Jakob Bro went ahead and sent all the material to Thomas Knak. On the raw recordings all the modifications were removed; there was nothing for Thomas Knak to do but dissect the recordings into the pieces he wanted, and then to rebuild the compositions in his own way, just as Jakob Bro was doing simultaneously in another part of the city. After a couple of months the two musicians began sending their sketches back and forth to each other.
With the joint goal of creating two editions of each song, they were inspired by each other’s productions. They threw away half of the recordings, and discussed and sorted their way to the final collection of songs. The collaboration between two of Denmark’s most talented and renowned musicians in each of their respectable genres has led to an excellent album. Despite the diverse collective of sounds – with everything from the voice a 12-year old choirboy to an 84-year old instrumentalist – both of the recordings unite in a masterpiece that evolves and moves as you listen.
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