Bird Speaks to the Kid

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The love for jazz reaches every known and unknown corner of the globe. My corner, Fåborg, an old small trade harbour located in the beautiful southern regions of the island of Funen in Denmark, was reached through my Father’s record collection of famous and obscure jazz albums from the 50s and 60s. Not a vast collection but a distinguished one.

The memory as a Grungy teenager with a love for basketball and shred guitar, who was getting rapidly absorbed by all kinds of music, when discovering Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie playing with THE Quintet on the album ‘Live at Massey Hall’ was that of pure astonishment and shock! And equally, listening to John Coltrane and his early quartet on ‘Giant Steps’ opened up a pathway to me that I think I could never have escaped even if I tried to. In other words, I WAS HOOKED!!!

Until then I had spend many hours in my bedroom practicing complex Eddie Van Halen tapping and flashy Joe Satriani legato runs. Jazz guitarists such as Metheny and Scofield were on my radar and I had started to shift my musical attention. Behold, entered my dad’s vinyl collection from his time as a student in the vibrant Danish capital, Copenhagen. Besides Bird and Dizzy with Powell, Mingus and Roach, were albums with artists as diverse as Bill Evans, Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and also Abdullah Ibrahim’s album “Duke Ellington presents: The Dollar Brand Trio” before Dollar became Abdullah. All these guys took me on journeys through their music like I had never experienced before. They created a vacuum in time that was mesmerising to me, and I sensed them all being both personal in their expression and incredibly skillful. I was already well trained in music theory, but I had no idea what was going on and I loved it!

Listening to these giants of jazz led me to an awakening! An awakening which I don’t think I was able to express at the time, but which I now know I deep down understood: When playing music, it has to first and foremost come from the heart!

Ironically, I had been listening to blues guitarists ever since I struck my first note. The Blues is surely all about heart and soul, and yet it wasn’t until those magical moments with Bird, Ornette and the others in my parents’ study overlooking the idyllic fjord of Fåborg, that I truly understood this insight. Music comes from the heart, even when it is complex and requires dedicating yourself as a musician to a lifetime of refinement.

But of course, it makes sense for listeners. Although people may look for excitement in hearing and seeing musicians delivering mind blowing display of virtuosity on their instruments, it is the feeling and sound that captivates us. Sound, a feeling, an atmosphere makes us stop and pay attention and allows our senses to go on a journey. Few really know what kind of work goes into playing jazz. What it means to improvise on changes from an old song form, or compose music that may have no lyrics, is based on the interpretative interaction between the musician in the moment, and yet still have to tell a story and convey a coherent sound as a musical piece. However, listeners do know what it means to be touched, or they will know it when it happens. It can be in the exciting moment of explosive interplay over tricky chords or in the calmness of long held notes in a ballad. Or it can be all of that spoken with the same musical ‘voice’ over an entire album or performance.

ALL great music comes from the heart, but to me the jazz greats were the first to truly open up my eyes to this fact. This realisation was what let me to dedicate my life to music and why I knew I wanted to learn how to ‘speak’ like the masters through my instrument.

My ongoing journey to where I am now has been full of twists and turns and many lessons have been learned along the way. I found myself settle down in the creative scene of London as my base to flourish as a musician and composer. Since listening to my dad’s vinyls I have spent countless hours thinking, talking, practicing, composing and listening to music. I have hung out at many late night jam sessions, driven around the land with my fellow musicians to perform at urban and provincial jazz clubs, and flown across seas to play at music festivals. My mind is always busy with something to practice or improve or learn on my instrument, but when I’m on stage or recording music in a studio, that insight as a teenager always centres me and reminds me what is important.

Not all music speaks to everybody and it also speaks to everyone in a different way, because (surprise) we are all different. But I am truly excited by the thought that my music speaks to some of you out there and maybe even in a way that might touch your heart.

If you want to check out one recent milestone in my journey, click here to listen to ‘Silent Storm’…

Thanks for reading and listening…

Kristian

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