Jazz started very early in the life of Anders Jormin. The Swedish bass player was born into a musical family and consequently studied classical music on piano and bass. During the many years of the following career where he unconventionally combines jazz, folk and modern classic, he recorded countless albums, nine of them as a leader.
Presently Jormin teaches at the "Göteborg Academy" and the "Sibelius Academy" in Helsinki and is a permanent member of the trio of Bobo Stenson. With ECM Records he released several albums, the newest of which is "Ad Lucem" where he and his jazz trio with clarinettist Fredrik Ljungkvist and drummer Jon Fält meet classically arranged vocals (Mariam Wallentin and Erika Angell) and Latin lyrics.
Carina Prange talked to Anders Jormin for Jazzdimensions
Carina: It is still a rare thing that a jazz bassist is also a band leader because the bass is considered a typical sideman's instrument. You have been leading a number of own projects since the early 80s. Where is your focuson the instrument and it's nevertheless not always prominent role or on the position as a leader, composer and organizer?
Anders: My focus is always on the music itself! Both as a composer and player I ask myself, what does the music need from me? If there is no answer, I may be silent… My instrument is a tool for expressing myself in the language we call music. So is definitely also my composing. I wish the music to be convincing, deep, true and rewardingwith or without bass.
Carina: What is the outside view on projects lead by the bassist? Do people expect a bass-dominated music where you shine with complicated solo-parts?
Anders: To be honest, I do not know if there is specific reactions to a project lead by bass players! I think that a bassist as a leader is not a rare thing, isn't it? Remember Charlie Mingus, Jaco Pastorius... And today Marcus Miller, Avishai Cohen, Arild Andersen, Esperanza Spalding and other colleagues of mine also lead and compose their music.
What I know is that I use explicit virtuosity only when needed and motivated, complex and advanced techniques when required to be able to play what I hear insideand simplicity next to silence when music itself gives me the sense of being fulfilled without me.
Music to me is an overall organic phenomena and needs to be respectfully met without ego.
Carina: A review of your album characterizes the sound of your bass on "Ad Lucem" as "like the dome of Cologne", probably meaning a real big, grounded tone...
Anders: (laughs) I have not read that beforebut I do know the acoustics of the Kölner dome is fabulous!
Carina: Well, apart from that hitting the point or nothow do you form your tone? Is it the instrument or is it in the fingers?
Anders: We may chase and change instruments over and over againfinally we realize that the sound is an image starting inside, becoming sound through your hands…
I have been very focused when developing my sound through the years. Inspired more by the human voice and other instruments than by the bass itself. The art of singingwith my instrument…
Carina: My personal impression of your sound would be: nimble, woody and with a clear contour. How would you describe your sound-ideal? And does it depend on the musical context?
Anders: I am glad for your description. Clarity, both in musical direction, phrasing and intonation, is always essential to me. The depth of nature and life itself vibrating in the wood has the same importance.
The musical context is of course always essential. But seldom does it change my fundamental conception of playing my instrument, though. On the other hand, there's so many ways of approaching your instrument, of being in service of the music. You may surprise yourself…
Carina: What player would you name as a role model for your sound or playing?
Anders: John Coltranefor his depth in expression.
Carina: And how important is virtuosity?
Anders: The virtuosity you develop in order to find your personality as an artist and to reach your inner musical voice is very important. The impressive virtuosity made for grandstanding is hardly music…
Carina: Could you tell us a little about the instrument you are playing?
Anders: I have a great instrument with signature from maestro Amati in Cremona. It is a false signature, though! (laughs)
My instrument is a copy, built late 1800 somewhere in Mittenwald. I am very happy with it. Not always easy to play, demanding mensure, sensitive to weather changes and transportationbut like a race horse, someone said!
Carina: The music on "Ad Lucem" is basically jazz, but not entirely. Some aspectsespecially some of the vocal linesremind me of modern classic. Do you listen to such music, for example Anton Webern? Is there an influence?
Anders: Yes, I have listened a lot to composed musicfrom medieval to contemporary. Schönbergs other student, Alban Berg, is a great source of inspiration in general. So is Bach in his outstanding counterpoint. On "Ad Lucem" it is obviously also the art of Gregorian singing that is present in the composers head…
Carina: The lyrics for the new album are mostly in Latin. What atmosphere do you want to create this way and what is your personal relation to this language?
Anders: Latin has not been spoken as a mother tongue since the 5th century. Yet, through medieval times a "lingua franca" for trade and shipping, it is still today an important and global language frequently used in science and medicine. A language most essential also in the somewhat contradictive history of the European churchhaving been used for repression, as abuse of power as well as a carrier of spiritual thoughts and true beliefs.
Latin seems to carry an almost magic ability to embrace and express whatever humanity has needed to communicate. A timeless source of syllables and words for humanity to share… The sense of eternity and mystery of this ancient language joined with the instantaneous presence and creativity of true improvisers became the inspiring framework in which the distinctive compositions came alive: "Musica verus. Hic et nunc. Ad lucem…"
Carina: Does it make the music more "international" when every listener regardless of his nationality will have the same "distance" to the text?
Anders: This is a good point… I do regret, though, that we did not include lyrics and translations in the booklet. I am myself responsible for that decision. So many listeners have asked for the translations…
Carina: For the singers Mariam Wallentin and Erika Angell these songs meant new territory as they both come from rock and pop. How did they adapt to this "cold water" you made them jump into?
Anders: I think they were inspired by the new challenge. And I know they have worked hard only the two of them to find a mutual way of approaching my songs.
Carina: Were you sure from the beginning that things would go right? Or did you have a "plan B" in case of emergency?
Anders: No plan B. I knew the depth of their talent and creativityas I knew Jons and Fredriks. Erika and Mariam, when you hear them in their own projects, do sound quite different from each other. But they both have that listening ear, significant for each true improviser.
I trusted they would find a way to unite musical material and the lyrical content. It is also great to hear how they both still manage to underline their artistic personalitiesonly using much smaller means than in other situations. In many ways, "Ad Lucem" is a very micro-dynamic, non exaggerated piece of music.
Carina: Originally the project was conceived for the "Swedish Jazz Celebration 2010". When did you find that it should be presented a broader public? In what kinds of venues can it be presented best?
Anders: It can be presented anywhere. And the first performance was so overwhelmingly received and appreciated that it was simply natural to record and perform again.
Carina: Do you prefer special acousticsdry or wet?
Anders: I personally prefer rooms and concert halls with good and warm acoustics. Not too dry. Not too wet. But to do "Ad Lucem" also in some churches would be very rewarding. I hope for that in the future!
Carina: Do you have something like a philosophy for life?
Anders: I hope to convey a vision of a richer life, a life in balance and harmony with yourself, in deep respect and nearness to the world, the spirituality and the people around you. Can I, now and then, be the catalyst that brings someone else closer to their vision, can my music make someone else grow a littlethen I am grateful.
CD: Anders Jormin - "Ad Lucem" (ECM Records ECM 2232)
Anders Jormin im Internet: www.xgac.se/jormin/
ECM Records im Internet: www.ecmrecords.com
Fotos: Pressefotos (Foto 2: Ann-Sofie Öman)