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10 names from Denmak’s jazz universe

Blog
10 names from Denmak’s jazz universe

30.05.2019

Text: Ekin Sanaç  
Collage: Sadi Güran

The bright history of Danish jazz goes back to Second World War. While the tour programs were cut short due to war at the time, those years were also marked with an unprecedented growth in the local jazz scene. Jazz was celebrated as resistance music in the 1940’s Denmark, which was under Nazi occupation, and gathered an expanding audience. Most of Danish jazz’s forthcoming names worked with the global jazz stars during the 60’s. It was also those years when many American musicians moved to Copenhagen and took the stage at the city’s jazz clubs. As part of Nordic Film Days, here is a list of 10 – both old and new- names from Denmark’s jazz universe.

John Tchicai 

Born in Copenhagen, John Tchicai moved to New York in the early 60’s and found a special space for himself within the avant-garde jazz scene. Aside from the recordings with names like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler, Tchicai is also known for his bands, New York Contemporary Five and New York Art Quartet. One of the pioneers of free jazz in Denmark, the sax player has many albums both as a leader and a member of various bands. Tchicai compositions are identifiable for their rhythmical and poetic structure, while always leaving room for improvisation.

Thomas Clausen

One of the most important Danish jazz pianists, Thomas Clausen started his career under Bill Evans’ mentorship during 1970’s. Apart from his busy and prolific solo career, Clausen has worked with Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Ben Webster, Joe Henderson, Lee Konitz and Dizzy Gillespie. The musician was also a part of Miles Davis’ team for the 1989 conceptual album, Aura. As an artist who can think about and execute music with a multi-directional approach, Clausen has a discography that expands way beyond jazz.

Marilyn Mazur

Marilyn Mazur moved from New York to Copenhagen when she was just six years old and built her career in Denmark; becoming not only Denmark’s but one of the world’s leading percussionists. The musician, who was selected as the “percussion-talent deserving wider recognition” many times by the prestigious Down Beat magazine, has worked with stars like Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Jan Garbarek and received various awards, including the Jazzpar Prize. Mazur visited İstanbul with Jan Garbarek in 2002 and as the guest of 19th Akbank Jazz Festival in 2009.

Jesper Thilo

Saxophone player Jesper Thilo, who took part in Miles Davis’ Aura alongside Thomas Clausen, takes his inspiration from American swing and bebop. The artist played in Arnved Meyer’s orchestra during the 1960’s, and later was a part of Ernie Wilkins’ Almost Big Band and DR Big Band. In 1989, he left these bands with the motivation to form his own orchestras. Since 1980’s he released many recordings as a leader.

Pierre Dørge

Founder of New Jungle Orchestra, avant-garde jazz guitarist’s rich discography with innovative approaches and influences from African traditions, Balkan sounds, Chinese & Indian cultures earned him a well-deserved respect. Having worked with names like Johnny Dyanai, Khan Jamal, David Murray and Don Cherry; Dørge has received various awards and took the stage in over 40 countries during his career.

Niels Lan Doky

When he was just 15 years old, Niels Lan Doky started to study under Thad Jones, who was living in Copenhagen at the time. In the beginning of 1980’s, Doky moved to New York and later he finished his education at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. As a pianist, composer and producer, he shared the stage with the giants of American jazz scene. During his prolific career, Niels Lan Doky released 37 albums with the bands he led, including The Doky Brothers band, which includes his brother Chris Minh Doky on the bass guitar. The artist is also the founder of Copenhagen’s The Standard and Jazzhaus Montmartre clubs.

Fredrik Lundin

Starting off his career with the jazz quartet he founded in the 1980’s, the sax and flute virtuoso and composer Fredrik Lundin has received more than ten awards, including the Ben Webster Prize. Becoming a star of his generation in Scandinavia with his tendency to push the limits, the musician is known for the award-winning, 11-member Fredrik Lundin Overdrive, which he founded in the beginning of 2000’s, as well as Five Go Adventuring Again quintet and a Marilyn Mazur – Kasper Bair collaboration, Masluba Orchestra.

Bo Stief

With his mastery over various styles such as Nordic jazz, swing, hard bop, funk, rock, Afro and Latin jazz; Bo Stief is a top-of-the-line bass virtuoso, both in Denmark and the global scene. With a career that spans over half a century, Stief has worked with masters like Miles Davis, Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon and Don Cherry, travelling around the world from one international jazz festival to another.

Simon Toldam

Secured himself a privileged spot within Scandinavia’s new generation musicians, Simon Toldam formed his first trio when he was just nine years old, and he has been making music with different bands as a leader or a member since then. Toldam has released 12 albums with Denmark’s leading avant-garde label ILK, and he continues his improvisation work both with his own trio and with the orchestra Stork.

Jakob Bro

Jakob Bro’s masterful guitar skills made him one of the most striking figures of Scandinavian jazz scene. Aside from the trio and quartet carrying his name, Bro is also known for his collaboration with electronic music producer Thomas Knak in Bo/Knak project. The musician tends towards a melody-focused music, and his albums have been chosen as the album of the year in Denmark several times. A former member of Paul Motion & The Electric Bebop Band, Bro has worked with many important jazz figures like Paul Bley, Chris Cheek and Bill Frisell.

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