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A unique depth and variety: Jakob Bro

Blog
A unique depth and variety: Jakob Bro

03.07.2019

Text: Ekin Sanaç
Illustration: Saydan Akşit

Started his career in Paul Motian and Tomasz Stanko’s bands; ECM artist, Danish guitarist Jacob Bro is coming to Zorlu PSM Turkcell Platinum Stage on 22 October with his trio formed of drummer Joey Baron and double bass player Thomas Morgan as part of 29th Akbank Caz Festival. Before the inspiring performance, here is a brief exploration of Jakob Bro’s music driven by his motivation to dive into the depths of various emotions.

Jakob Bro’s initiation process into the world of music started with his musician father’s record collection. Even though the first instrument he dabbled with was the trumpet, by the age of 12, his passion for guitar outweighed his interest in trumpet and he decided to switch instruments. After graduating from the conservatory in his country, he went on to continue his studies at the prestigious Berklee of College of Music, followed by New School for Jazz for Contemporary Music, also in New York.

Bro’s first releases came out in 2003 through Loveland Records, and his versatile musical approach, innovative vision and improvisational skills attracted the attention of musicians in the New York jazz scene. After he returned back from United States to his home country, he received an invitation to participate in master drummer Paul Motian’s Europe tour in 2002. Motian’s 2004 release Garden of Eden, became the first recording from ECM that credited Bro’s name. After a short while, Bro also joined one of the most sophisticated trumpeters of our times, Polish musician Tomasz Stanko’s quintet. The second ECM album that Bro took part in was Stanko’s Dark Eyes that came out in 2009.

Jakob Bro’s uniqueness comes from his style that manages to experiment and create seminal atmospheres within the jazz, without compromising the genre’s traditional roots. Creating folk inspired modern jazz sentences on his guitar with the help of loops and various effects, Bro opens up spaces to explore the depths and variety in his music. His layered approach exposes a light energy, which pulls the listener into a rich, magical and exciting world, a world that appeals to a large variety of jazz fans. Jakob Bro explains the improvisational designs of his compositions with these words: “My compositions are about catching a glimpse of a feeling, sketching it down and then unfolding it as we record... Much of my music is constructed around melodies. My compositions are almost like a song. But within the frame I set up with a melody, a lot of things can happen. New layers of music are constantly added to the vocabulary, and when you play, you unconsciously get to a new place.”

Bro released 15 albums as leader, while also collaborating with many names including Paul Bley, Chris Cheek, Andrew D’Angelo, Bill Frisell, George Garzone, Lee Konitz, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mark Turner, Kenny Wheeler and Ben Street. Since 2012, he continues to make music with drummer Joey Baron and double bass player Thomas Morgan as the Jakob Bro Trio as well as the Jakob Bro Quartet, which includes Danish trumpet player Palle Mikkelborg, legendary Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen and Thomas Morgan. Aside from his own trio and quartet, Jakob Bro also performs with his tentet, and creates music under his Bro/Knak project that he shares with electronic music producer Thomas Knak.

Bro’s first album on ECM as a leader, Gefion, came out in 2015 and the following year’s release, again from his own trio, Streams, received high notes from critics. In 2018, Jacob Bro Quartet released Returnings on ECM, and Jakob Bro Trio’s 2017 performance at one of the most important jazz venues of the world, New York’s Jazz Standart, was released under the name Bay of Rainbows.

Jakob Bro received various rewards from his home country Denmark since 2003: he was selected as the “Artist of the Year” with his Beautiful Day album; Gefion, Balladeering and Sidetracked albums were pronounced as the “Best Jazz Album of the Year”, Bro/Knack and Sidetrack albums were selected as the “Best Crossover Album”.  Downbeat Magazine’s traditional Critics Poll in 2018 named Jakob Bro as “The Rising Star of the Guitar”.  Jakob Bro’s successful career is driven by his passion to discover various musical forms, and it looks like this passion will continue to help him create more special projects for the foreseeable future.

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