Thank you very much Jasper Hansen, (UCL), for your wonderful advises and corrections
Picture by Dave Maric, phronesismusic
Let me start with an anecdote that I keep in my mind. In the year of 2012 I was spending the early summer days in North Spain. One day, having breakfast, I was thinking about some work possibilities, like the freelance journalist I was being in that time. My curiosity was focused on the cultural agenda of Copenhagen city for the summer season.
It trapped my attention the Opera Festival and the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. I talked with Pachi Tapiz, a mathematics teacher from Navarra, Spain, who is running a jazz magazine in his spare time, and we agreed that if possible, once I arrived in Copenhagen, I would start writing my impressions from at least one jazz concert and send it for his website. Usually in Spain, Copenhagen is imagined like a city where culture flourishes and citizens-and authorities- do enjoy it. “Denmark is still exotic to us”-I read once this idea in an interview to the Spanish translator Blanca Ortiz-. And I agree.
Before my exotic travel of the year started, I had the chance to listen different tracks of Walking Dark, the last album of the contemporary jazz band Phronesis. I had decided to going to their concert at the Jazz House, at the end of July. Phronesis happened to be still unknown for me in that moment. I found some pictures from them, and the pictures seemed to me, like if they were playing with the concept of “rock pop”, by their challenging and emotional attitude at the same time, as a rock star would do, I thought.
However, imagine my surprise that summer, once I arrived in Kastrup airport, I turned my head and I could recognize them perfectly in front of me, picking up their suitcases. I found this casualty so funny…What a coincidence! They were there, Phronesis, the three of them. They left the airport, fast and silent, like ghosts in the fog.
This anecdote is the beginning of my process becoming a fan of the band, we can call it, a process of “idealisation”, which brings me to suggest to the editor in chief of Danish Review to include a review about Walking Dark.
An idealisation and mystification with two sides. In one hand, around the idea of jazz music. Myth building is something that, at least from a Spanish perspective, grows up around music, not only flamenco, also rock bands. In my case, I was fascinated with The Doors at a certain age. Not only me. Millions and billions of persons. Only when I began to discover the magic of jazz bands, especially in alive concerts in Madrid and Berlin, I started paying attention to this genre.
I have the impression that usually a child does not desire to become a jazz musician, but a rock star. I feel that one does not find jazz, but jazz finds you. It is a call, it is not a choice. Let me see, ask yourself, have you ever desired to become a rock star?
In the other hand, idealisation around Danish music, or better, how it is deeply integrated the musical education in Denmark. In Spain, musical temples designed by famous architects are built, instead of building music academies-the idea is from the Spanish writer Antonio Muñoz Molina-. His fine observation of the Spanish scenery in musical terms obeys to the reality. Indeed, many Spaniards are travelling abroad also in search of an alternative system to experience the cultural and artistic education. Those values are reasons to travel for many travellers, it is not “El Dorado”, but a kind of utopia still.
Phronesis, for example, is part of Loop Collective, based in London. In my imagination, it is like a secret society-but not secret-, or like the brotherhood of Robin Hood in Sherwood. It makes me think that a strong network, constant work and illusion, those ingredients, no more, are necessary to run a cultural project. This is the lesson to learn from this young collective of artists. They help each other, encourage their work and promote their collaboration within themselves or with foreign artists. I sent once a text to the editorial team of Danish Review, where I had written: “Phronesis is a democratic group”, and they asked me: “could you define that sentence?” I found hard to define what it meant. In the case of Phronesis there are two different meanings. In one hand, it happens that it is a group without a leader, from what I can understand at least, it means that all the instruments, the double bass, piano and drums, enjoy the creative process.
They have played in darkness, during the performance of The Pitch Black Project, in darkness, can you imagine it? Better than any other visual effect, just the band, the sound, the soul and the heart. Unlucky I was never in one of these concerts, but I would have liked it, I am pretty sure. When we want to appreciate music, a verse, a kiss or a taste, we close our eyes. Brilliant idea they had. But it is not what it seems, it is not only a visual effect. According with the information I found in the official website of the band, one of the members of the group was especially interested in the dark concerts, to understand the state of a person with low sense of vision. The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. Aristotle.
So basically, what I found, is that Phronesis are a jazz trio, where there is a Swedish drummer, named Anton Eger, a Danish double bass, author of the band, Jasper Høiby, and a British pianist, whose name is Ivo Neame. They are able to commove and transport to nostalgia. This empathy is not a privilege from Phronesis, I know, it is a quality of music, as an art, as the solution against angst and emptiness.
There are two official websites about this contemporary jazz band, you can check it for further details here. First belongs to the band, the second is from the record company. The third link corresponds to Loop Collective.
What does it mean “phronesis”? it is a ancient Greek concept, it seems there is a definition for this word according with a quote by Aristotle, “nature change for the better, evolve and achieve vital progress”. (And the writer who is making this review, once thought that this was quote made by a journalist of the BBC. But this is another story).
Now we have some facts. The trio’s début came in 2007 with Organic Warfare. Their last album, Walking Dark is named in reference to the Pitch Black Project the band was working with, in the time of their second release, Green Delay.
Through Edition Records website, I found that “the Walking Dark album launch saw the trio touring in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, France, Romania, Ireland and the UK including performances at Istanbul, Vitoria, Palatia, C- Mine and Copenhagen Jazz Festivals. Earlier in the year Jasper Høiby was awarded the Copenhagen Jazz Festival’s ‘Young Spirit Award’ and in June the trio won the ‘London Jazz Award’ at the London Awards for Art and Performance. With their “rare combination of solid jazz credentials and zeitgeist” (jazz journal), Phronesis have recently been chosen by the International Jazz Festivals Organisation, (as one of only six groups worldwide), for the IJFO new talent support programme, which includes performances for the trio at the 17 IJFO festivals over the coming two years”.
When I remember that I saw them in the Kastrup airport, vanishing like ghost figures in the fog…
(This album, at least for me, shakes some of my emotions. You do not need to listen to it in darkness, rather enjoy this music under the summer sky).
|1. Walking Dark|
|2. Passing Clouds|
|4. Suede Trees|
|5. Upside Down|
|6. Charm Defensive|
|7. Lipwash, Pt.1|
|8. Lipwash, Pt.2|
|11. American Jesus|
|12. Eight Hours|