Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 14, No.6, 2015

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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Serge Gamache Emanuel Pordes
Diane Gordon
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Jazz Contributors

Tommy Emmanuel
John Stetch
Susie Arioli
Coral Egan
Diana Krall
Stacey Kent
Carol Welsman
Aldo Romano
Denzal Sinclaire
Madeleine Peyroux
Bireli Lagrene
Sonido Isleño
Provost & Lachapelle
Kevin Breit
Sophie Milman
Annie Poulain
Badi Assad
Donato & Bouchard
Ingrid Jensen
John Roney
Russell Malone
David Binney
Kurt Rosenwinkel
Mimi Fox
Voo Doo Scat
Coral Egan
Martin Taylor
Jordan Officer
Melody Gardot
Jean Vanasse
Yves Léveillé
Sylvain Provost
Louciana Souza
Patricia Barber
Jill Barber
Corrine Bailey Rae
Chet Doxas
François Bourassa
Sylvain Luc
Neil Cowley
Marianne Trudel
Florence K
Terez Montcalm
Cyrus Chestnut
Tord Gustavsen
Sarah MK
Julie Lamontagne
Vincent Gagnon
Arioli & Officer
Jean Félix Mailloux
Becky Noble
Vijay Iyer
Lionel Loueke
Tia Fuller
Cécile McLorin Salvant
Emma Frank
Shai Maestro
Christine Jensen
Vincent Rehel
Kat Edmonson
2010 Montreal Guitar Show (Sylvan Luc)
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101 (featuring David Binney)
Montreal Jazz Festival 2010







Piano Keyboard


by Robert J. Lewis

Featured artist: JAGA JAZZIST


Subtlety is not Jaga Jazzist’s most distinguishing feature. Bullied and bent into shape in the outer limits of the paranormal, their extroverted, hewed in hell, jarringly jagged, trapezoidal sound is guaranteed to fry the brain and turn ear wax into lighter fluid. Taking up the challange -- as in let's get ready to rumble -- of reducing the numbing impact of Norway’s dark days of winter, Jaga Jazzist’s alt-cult-jazz will instantly appeal to the latest drug you’ve taken, or make your insanity-lunacy feel regular. Their concert was the radio active stuff of highlight reel from Montreal’s 2015 Montreal International Jazz Festival.

To get a sense of what this group is trying to do to themselves and their audience (and they do it better than well), think of them as an 8-piece collective (led by brothers Lars and Martin Horntveth) trying to produce the symphonic equivalent of nuclear fusion; that is combine, meld and interpenetrate their ideas in such a way to produce an on-stage conflagration -- the kind that preemptively begs for a fire wall between their scalding Scandie sound and audience. The vibe the Jazzists put out is so intense you’re almost afraid to stick your fingers in it. And if you’re next to the stage, you won’t be leaning into but rather dodging the sharp flames that are being whipped up and sent out in all directions. Starved of warmth and sunlight in winter, these one-of-kind, contagiously creative Norwegians have learned how to sizzle up their own very special concoction of hot and heavy – and eat it too.

For labeling and category purposes, it’s easier to define what their music isn’t than what it is. It combines prog-rock, electro-grunge and improvisation, which mean it flirts with while giving the steel boot to anything resembling conventional jazz. Its propulsion and rectangularity derive from rock, but there are generous spaces reserved for improvisation, albeit nothing remotely sounding like a jazz solo. Instead sounds, often industrial, erupt into the mix, are joined by pinched horn and guitar disgorgements, sometimes discordant, piercing or plaintive: layer upon layer is added (think of dry brush being fed into a huge fire, after which gasoline is poured), until a fearsome swell of sound breaks through the levee and all hell erupts – and to the manor born the audience gets what it came for – and more. Sound transmuted into your favourite hallucinogen. Is it a song or bull-dozer being birthed on stage?

The ensemble includes three guitarists, three separate keyboards and three horn players (some of them double up on their instruments). Almost everything is cranked through a synthesizer so you never hear anything that might sound like straight jazz, or straight anything.

It might take a while to figure out that most of the time signatures are pretty straight forward, that is until you get in sync with the slippery but very catchy off-beat accents and beguiling counter rhythms. And if you still can’t follow, you always know you’re somewhere, and that theirs is exactly the kind of music you require to get there – if being bushwhacked by music is your thing.

The least important thing I can say about the concert is why I didn’t particularly like it though I stayed to the end -- and, it must be said, I wasn’t displeased to note that my mostly hirsuteless pate had grown back most of its mane. More importantly, everyone loved the show, just as I immensely enjoyed trying to figure out why.

Jaga Jazzist has already played Club Soda thrice, and they will surely play it a fourth time because what they do they do very well. While their music may strike the ear as wild and excessively self-referential (code for debauched), there is nothing aleatoric about it. At the root of their mutant sound and its brute effects are strong melodies that are twisted and bent into friendly shapes that wrap themselves around the brain like a hard hat against a hail of bullets – in the cool and hippest of places that don’t qualify as venues until they fill with the sound of music and the bloated society of the post-modern jaded who know where to go to fill the holes in their souls.

Get the gist. Can’t resist Jaga Jazzist.

Photos ©Victor Diaz Lamich



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