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The Jazz Mann – 2019
Review by Ian Mann
(Distribution by CD Baby and Amazon Catalogue Number WKBU002)
“Make Your Stand” is the second album from the London based contemporary organ trio Acrobat and follows their eponymous début from 2012.
Arguably the best known member of the group is its guitarist Kristian Borring, a Copenhagen born musician who has been based in London for a number of years and who has become a vital presence on the UK jazz scene. As a leader he has released three recordings under his own name, “Nausicaa” from 2011, “Urban Novel” and “Silent Storm” from 2016. All of these have been reviewed elsewhere on the Jazzmann and each recording in the series has represented an artistic progression as Borring has continued to hone his instrumental and compositional skills. In the main these recordings have featured Borring’s regular working quartet featuring pianist Arthur Lea, bassist Mick Coady and drummer Jon Scott but with the group sometimes expanded to a five piece with the addition of guest musicians such as saxophonist Will Vinson and vibraphonist Jim Hart.
Borring has also recorded in the duo format with pianist Bruno Heinen, the pair releasing the album “Postcard To Bill Evans” in 2015, a recording paying homage to the late, great American pianist and composer. As a sideman Borring has has worked with saxophonist Tommaso Starace and vocalists Monika Lidke and Sara Mitra.
I’m indebted to Borring for forwarding me a copy of “Make Your Stand” for review purposes.
I have to admit to being less familiar with the other two members of Acrobat. However I’ve previously heard Oxford born Bartlett’s organ playing on the 2018 album “Framework” by multi-reed player Jon Shenoy’s Draw By Four quartet, a group that also features the talents of guitarist Sam Dunn and drummer Chris Draper. Review here;
Also an accomplished pianist Bartlett has also recorded a duo album with Puppini Sisters vocalist Kate Mullins.
Liverpool born Davey has worked with leading musicians such as bassist Jasper Hoiby and saxophonist Soweto Kinch. He also leads his own quartet which has previously included Arthur Lea, Jon Shenoy and bassist Andrea Di Biase. He has also been in bands featuring Kate Mullins. A musician with a wide range of interest Davey has also played pop and rock sessions and has been involved in multi-disciplinary projects such as the spoken word group Tongue Fu, the circus group Extraordinary Bodies and the samba group Rhythms of the City.
Acrobat is democratic unit that sees compositional duties divided between its members with all three contributing tunes to the new album. Things kick off with Borring’s title track, which quickly establishes the group sound. Here this is complex but subtly swinging and with the lead divided pretty much equally between guitar and organ. Bartlett and Borring trade solos and also comp inventively when the other is soloing. Meanwhile Davey is a busy presence behind the kit, his drumming brightly detailed, supple and inventive.
Bartlett’s lively “The Big Three” is based on old style samba rhythms with three beats in the bar, hence the title. Written to embrace Davey’s deep interest in Brazilian music it’s a joyous, invigorating piece that again sees Borring and Bartlett exchanging solos in typically fluent and absorbing fashion. The pair are aided by Davey’s bright, crisp, continually evolving drumming, with the sticksman enjoying something of a feature towards the close of the tune.
Borring supplies “King Congas” (great title), which begins quietly with a passage of gentle unaccompanied guitar before adopting a subtle Latin inflected groove, this providing the platform for the beguiling guitar and organ solos that follow.
Davey makes his compositional bow with “Bodger and Me”, its rhythms moving between odd meters and more conventional swing as Bartlett and Borring deliver lively solos. The composer’s drums are also featured prominently in the arrangement.
Bartlett’s “The Iceberg” takes its inspiration from the music of the classical composer Alban Berg (1885 – 1935) who frequently wrote for organ. Berg’s influence is merged with gospel and blues in this slow burner as the composer and Borring ‘battle’ for supremacy as they exchange solos. With both soloists drawing deep on the wells of blues and gospel it’s perhaps the piece that best recalls the classic jazz organ combos of the past, despite the European classical references.
Similar qualities are brought to Borring’s composition “Hall”, although whether this piece is inspired by the late, great Jim (an acknowledged influence) is not made clear. It would be most appropriate if it were. Like Hall Borring is a guitarist of enormous technical facility who always channels his gifts tastefully and selflessly, a quiet, undemonstrative virtuoso who perhaps doesn’t always attract the kind of admiration that his talents deserve. Having seen Borring performing live with Tommaso Starace as far back as 2011 I can attest to his awesome technique, having watched him contort his fingers into seemingly impossible chord shapes. The guitarist is at his most inventive here on this mid tempo swinger as he trades ideas with Bartlett’s soulful Hammond B3.
Davey’s “Dance Of The Pockets” sees the composer’s drums assuming parity with guitar and organ as he sketches melodic patterns on his kit in a series of lively exchanges with Borring and Bartlett before continuing to drum creatively behind their solos.
Bartlett’s “For K.V.” is dedicated to the memory of the late, great trumpeter and composer Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014), a profound influence on so many young British jazz musicians. The title comes from Wheeler’s given names, Kenneth Vincent, and is not a mistake, as some may have first thought. The music has a relaxed, gently swinging quality and offers soloing opportunities for the composer on Hammond and Borring on guitar. It’s a celebration of a life well lived.
It’s drummer Davey who actually provides the gentlest track on the album, the gentle, slinking “Almost There”, a ballad featuring the clean melodic lines of Borring’s guitar, the subtle gospel infusions of Bartlett’s Hammond and the composer’s delicately brushed drumming. Later the momentum is increased via Borring’s spiralling guitar solo as Davey switches to sticks.
Borring’s final contribution with the pen is “Infant Rondo” which emerges from an opening crescendo to extemporise around Borring’s guitar motifs with solos from the composer and from Bartlett as Davey keeps the groove. There is plenty of variety of mood and tempo as the piece progresses, the trio drawing jazz, classical and contemporary rock influences into a coherent whole.
The album concludes on an energetic note with Davey’s hard grooving “T.K.A”. The trio bring funk, jazz, rock, soul and gospel elements to the party as they get down in the best Hammond tradition with earthy solos from guitar and organ plus a colourful drum feature from the composer.
Acrobat are a well balanced and highly democratic unit who bring a contemporary slant to the jazz organ combo, adding subtle elements drawn from other genres along the way. They’ve been compared to American trio of organist Larry Goldings, guitarist Peter Bernstein and drummer Bill Stewart, the long running triumvirate generally considered to be the world’s premier exponents of the jazz organ trio format. Borring has studied with Bernstein in New York so there’s no doubting their influence and it’s a comparison that suits Acrobat well.
“Make You Stand” works well within the confines of the organ trio format and with three different composers bringing their ideas to the table there’s plenty for the listener to enjoy on an absorbing album that delivers some excellent playing from all three protagonists. Also an exciting live act, one would imagine.
The Whitman Review (Wakefield Jazz) – Apr 2018
by J. Whitman
There’s group chemistry—and then there’s alchemy. This was a particularly fine display of the ways in which every instance of individual musical expression can serve to enhance the group sound. There is no shortage of piano trios and guitar trios, so what was intriguing in prospect was to hear how piano and guitar would combine. The short answer is ‘wonderfully’—much abetted by the redoubtable Jon Scott on bass and Dave Whitford’s often roiling drum work.
Although Kristian Borring’s guitar was of course generally front and centre, Rick Simpson’s piano was not relegated to subdued rhythm duties. In fact, it was the rhythmic possibilities opened up by two instruments that each have both chordal and melodic modes that formed the character of much of the music. The ways in which they were able to alter and extend the familiar patterns of theme/chorus/solo imparted to both sets a variety and charm that exceeded what anyone might have thought possible with such musical forces. Early in the first set, Kristian stood back from the melody, playing chords against Rick Simpson’s piano extravaganza—but even as his right hand dazzled, his left was playing a counter-rhythm to Kristian’s guitar. Bass and drums added to this interaction, delivering music that was at once both remarkably complex and an utter delight.
This is a band that can certainly swing and drive, but even so, Kristian had the skill and taste to finish a crescendo that didn’t rely on ‘power chords’ or over-driven guitar: the power was in the music, not the volume. Yet the band had a particularly good line in hard-driving numbers, with all four musicians at peak revs. And in parallel with the remarkable patterning of guitar and piano, Jon Scott’s ‘more really is more’ bass and Dave Whittford’s polyrhythmic drumming gave the music further depth and drive. Another feature of the interaction between all four players is how they managed to combine precision without any sense of being over-rehearsed or lacking in spontaneous creativity.
Kristian’s playing also featured some sweetly melodic material—his own compositions—that for all their grace certainly looked like a technical challenge; and his fellow musicians were of course no less adept at accompanying him in these quieter and more reflective numbers.
It was certainly alchemy—musical gold.
© J. Whitman, 14th April 2018
La Nueva España – 13.04.2018
by Eduardo Viñuela
(SPANISH REVIEW – SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH TRANSLATION)
Para muchos, el jazz es una música del pasado. Efectivamente, su iconografía, sus leyendas y su repertorio canónico remite a la primera mitad del siglo XX en la memoria colectiva. Sin embargo, este género ha seguido su camino, reinventándose y mezclándose con lenguajes de todo tipo; en definitiva, manteniéndose vivo e inagotable generación tras generación. La música de Kristian Borring es buena muestra de ello; este guitarrista danés nos visitó el pasado miércoles dentro del ciclo “Jazz en el Centro” para presentar una propuesta en la que el bop, el swing y el rock se combinan con un sello personal. Temas en los que prima la imaginación con melodías poco convencionales y continuos cambios.
Borring apostó por un repertorio propio, seleccionado temas de sus tres discos en solitario que sonaron bien arropados por Mick Coady (contrabajo), Jon Scott (batería) y el gijonés César Latorre al piano. Las melodías empezaron a fluir desde el primer compás del concierto; sin preámbulos, piano y guitarra dieron forma a un tema construido con fraseos que rompen la lógica convencional, desafiando los desarrollos isométricos y manteniendo siempre alerta al público con transformaciones continuas. El peso de los desarrollos se repartió entre todos los músicos a lo largo de la pieza sin llegar a consolidar partes a solo. Esta sería la tónica dominante en el concierto; en la música de Borring las melodías no se presentan, sino que emergen en momentos puntuales del conjunto para integrarse de nuevo de forma discreta en él. Así sucedió con el original y sugerente motivo que guía “London magic”, por ejemplo.
Sin abandonar esta tónica, “Cool it” aumentó la intensidad y el tempo para sumergirse en las maneras del bop. Este tema se construye a base de variaciones sobre la progresión de acordes del “Airegin” de Sonny Rollins; por primera vez en el recital se identificaron perfectamente los solos y aparecieron los primeros aplausos en cada lucimiento virtuosístico. Con un nuevo cambio de tercio, Borring nos aproximó al terreno del rock, quizás su vertiente más interesante; todo empezó a sonar más ordenado, con un patrón de batería constante, acordes reiterados en el piano y un tempo que ralentizaba el tema echándolo para atrás. Con muy pocos recursos esta nueva pieza enganchaba al público, casi lo hipnotizaba, y a base de matices acabó apagándose progresivamente hasta desaparecer. “Islington Twilight” siguió la misma línea, con una regularidad que acabó por descomponerse.
En la recta final volvió la intensidad. Los desarrollos irregulares de “Hipster” evocaban el caos de la ciudad, no en vano este tema abre su disco “Urban novel” (2014), dedicado al paisaje urbano. Notas reiteradas, motivos incisivos de clara impronta bop y una sensación general de movimiento imparable gobiernan esta pieza. Para acabar, “Imperfect circumstances” se posicionó más claramente en la senda del bop y sirvió para que cada miembro del cuarteto pudiera despedirse con lucimientos. Atractiva propuesta la de Borring, un músico sobrado de mimbres para seguir evolucionando por distintos derroteros; conviene estar atentos a sus próximos trabajos.
For many, jazz is a music of the past. Indeed, its iconography, its legends and its canonical repertoire refer to the first half of the 20th century in the collective memory. However, this genre has continued its path, reinventing itself and mixing with languages of all kinds; in short, staying alive and inexhaustible generation after generation. The music of Kristian Borring is a good example of it; This Danish guitarist visited us last Wednesday in the cycle “Jazz in the Center” to present a proposal in which bop, swing and rock are combined with a personal seal. Subjects in which the imagination prevails with unconventional melodies and continuous changes.
Borring opted for a repertoire of his own, selected songs from his three solo albums that sounded well wrapped up by Mick Coady (double bass), Jon Scott (drums) and the Gijón-born César Latorre on piano. The melodies began to flow from the first beat of the concert; without preambles, piano and guitar gave form to a theme constructed with phrasings that break the conventional logic, challenging the isometric developments and always keeping the public alert with continuous transformations. The weight of the developments was distributed among all the musicians throughout the piece without actually consolidating parts alone. This would be the dominant tone in the concert; in Borring’s music the melodies do not present themselves, but emerge at specific moments of the ensemble to integrate themselves again discreetly into it. So it happened with the original and suggestive motif that guides “London magic”, for example.
Without abandoning this trend, “Cool it” increased the intensity and tempo to immerse yourself in the ways of bop. This theme is constructed based on variations on the progression of chords of the “Airegin” by Sonny Rollins; for the first time in the recital the solos were perfectly identified and the first applauses appeared in each virtuosic show. With a new change of third, Borring brought us closer to the field of rock, perhaps its most interesting side; everything began to sound more orderly, with a constant drum pattern, repeated chords on the piano and a tempo that slowed down the theme by throwing it back. With very few resources this new piece hooked the audience, almost hypnotized him, and based on nuances ended up progressively faded to disappear. “Islington Twilight” followed the same line, with a regularity that ended up breaking down.
In the final stretch the intensity returned. The irregular developments of “Hipster” evoked the chaos of the city, not in vain this theme opens his album “Urban novel” (2014), dedicated to the urban landscape. Repeated notes, incisive motives of clear bop imprint and a general sense of unstoppable movement rule this piece. To finish, “Imperfect circumstances” was positioned more clearly in the path of the bop and served so that each member of the quartet could say goodbye with lucimientos. Attractive proposal that of Borring, a musician with plenty of room to continue evolving in different directions; It is convenient to be attentive to his next work.
Jazznyt – Niels Overgårds Jazzblog – October 2017
by Niels Overgård
(DANISH REVIEW – SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH TRANSLATION)
Den danske guitarist Kristian Borring har slået sine folder i London i adskillge år. Sidste år udgav han albummet Silent Storm, som også blev anmeldt her på bloggen. Den blev fulgt op af en turné der sluttede i London på den kendte jazzklub The Vortex. Her optog han det aktuelle album, der indeholder en blanding af Borrings egne nye og gamle kompositioner og en enkelt standard.
Når han spiller Hoagy Carmichaels Skylark er det med luft og overskud. Modsat de andre numre er der ikke piano med på denne. Bassisten Dave Whitford leverer en skøn, varm og tør solo, der er omkranset af Borrings elegante guitarspil. Borring nævner selv Jim Hall i forbindelse med det selvskrevne nummer Fable. Det er ikke tilfældigt, da det er ham der er nærmest Borring klassiske jazzguitarspil. Live at The Vortex er en behagelig klubindspilning med feeling og sjæl helt oppe i guitaren. Kvartetten består desuden af Rick Simpson på piano og Jon Scott på trommer. Borring forsøger at sætte en turné op i Danmark i 2018. NO
Danish guitarist Kristian Borring has been hanging out in London for some years. Last year saw the release of the album Silent Storm, which was also reviewed here on the blog. It was followed by a tour ending in London at the famous jazz club The Vortex. This is where the latest album was recorded, and it contains a mix of Borring’s own compositions new and old, as well as one standard.
He plays Hoagy Carmichael’s Skylark effortlessly and with space. Unlike the other tracks this one does not feature the piano. Bass player Dave Whitford contributes with a beautiful warm and dry solo, surrounded by Borring’s elegant guitar playing. Borring himself mentions Jim Hall in connection with his own track Fable. This is no coincidence, as he is closest to Borring’s classic jazz guitar playing. Live at The Vortex is a pleasant club recording with feeling and soul all the way into the guitar. The quartet also consists of Rick Simpson on piano and Jon Scott on drums. Borring is trying to establish a tour in Denmark in 2018.
AP REVIEWS – SEP 2017
by Adrian Pallant
DANISH GUITARIST Kristian Borring’s most recent solo albums (Urban Novel and Silent Storm) revealed artistry and technique of particularly deft, cool clarity – and from the bright, opening phrases of the first of six well-chosen numbers, these live quartet recordings garnered from a session at London’s Vortex Jazz Club hold the attention in an especially direct way.
Live music is so precious; and a glimpse (or memory) of this quartet’s late-November evening sparkle is recorded and engineered here with precision by Alex Bonney, the inclusion of appreciative, close audience applause placing it in context. Along with pianist Rick Simpson, double bassist Dave Whitford and drummer Jon Scott, Borring’s electric guitar personality consistently shines – from a Jim Hall lushness in busy Imperfect Circumstances to the free-spirited dreaminess of A Lullaby which shimmers to Simpson’s tremulant piano washes and Scott’s brush-and-cymbal coloration (a drummer who consistently shades even the subtlest original music with focused, balmlike expression). Interesting, too, to hear two different interpretations from the Silent Storm release – Fable and April Fools, both with particularly effusive piano spotlights and the strong bass presence of Dave Whitford.
Borring’s London Magic (complete with recurring chordal motifs echoing the since-silenced hour chimes of Big Ben) is a positive and buoyant treasure, with crystalline solo-line improv supported so skilfully by his band; and turn up the volume for the romantically ornamented, unaccompanied guitar opening of Hoagy Carmichael’s evergreen Skylark which, it turns out, is just the prelude to almost nine minutes of rapturous, restrained, six-string beauty.
A pleasure to listen in on Kristian Borring and colleagues, on-stage, right there in their element.
Released on 15 September, Live at the Vortex is available, digitally, from Amazon.
Jazz Journal – Oct 2016
by Bruce Lindsey
Kristian Borring – Silent Storm
(Jellymould JM JJ024)
Danish guitarist and composer Borring is once again in the company of s top-flight British trio on this, his third album as leader. Borring’s guitar sound has a welcoming warmth and it’s characteristic by a pureness of tone and a lack of effect-driven alterations. His compositions are strong on melody, with space for all four musicians to make their mark with tight and inventive solos. The band’s experiences as a performing unit shines through: Ton shows the player’s ability to swing, April Fools its talent for reflective ballads. Islington Twilight has a brooding quality that hints at an unfolding drama. (Bruce Lindsey)
London Jazz News – July 2016
by Peter Jones
Danish guitarist and composer KRISTIAN BORRING has a new album (Silent Storm on the Jellymould label) with his long-standing quartet and a UK tour coming up. He spoke to Peter Bacon from London Jazz News.
LondonJazz News: What attracted you to study and then settle in the UK, and what do you consider the major strengths of the UK jazz scene?
Kristian Borring: I chose to finish my studies in London at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama because I knew the city had a great vibe and was a “happening” place for jazz. I didn’t really know much about the British scene as a whole and more than 10 years later I am still learning the history. But the UK scene has a huge focus on original music but with a great jazz tradition to build it on. The level is super high and musicians are hungry for playing across many styles.
LJN: This is your third release to feature these same players – what are the benefits of maintaining a cohesive band?
KB: I guess like in any workspace if a group of people gets along professionally and socially it doesn’t just make life easier, it also makes it more fun, especially when you travel. I feel that we have created a trust and honesty both verbally and musically that I enjoy. Also when your band knows your catalogue of music it allows you to be a little more spontaneous on gigs.
LJN: How do you compose and where do you find your inspiration to write new music?
KB: I compose mainly on the guitar and sometimes on the piano. The process varies. I can be composing with a vague idea in mind and work at it with structure. I get a lot of my ideas from exploring rhythmic or harmonic material that I am curious about and so some of my compositions need meticulous creation with trial and error and attention to detail. Other tunes come to me more naturally when I pick up my guitar or sit down at the piano with no intention of composing. When that happens I try and drop everything and keep the flow open to let the music write itself, so to speak.
LJN: There are suggestions on this disc of some rock and fusion influences – where do these come from?
KB: I came to the guitar through blues and hard rock, like BB King, AC/DC and Van Halen. I think they all had soul and vibe in their own way. I copied bands like Nirvana and Alice In Chains. And then came Radiohead. But at the same time I was digging those more virtuosic players like Joe Satriani. That quickly bridged into an interest for fusion with the Pat Metheny Group, Brecker Brothers and Chick Corea. I was listening to bebop and really wanted to learn to play that way but I still had a lot to learn, so I guess the whole fusion genre helped me explore new ground while using my more advanced rock “chops”.
LJN: You recently paid homage to Jim Hall, but who are the other musicians from whom you feel you have learned most, or who have been most influential on your music?
KB: Oh boy, I find it very hard to single out my influences after years of learning and listening. I guess I studied Metheny and Scofield a lot when I was younger and of course Wes Montgomery. I have more Coltrane albums than any other artist. Ornette Coleman is a big inspiration too, also for composition, his work up until the ‘70s. I love the melodic development and sound of alto players Konitz and Desmond and I find 20th century composers like, Alban Berg, Stravinsky and Charles Ives very inspirational. I listen a lot to pianists for phrasing, harmony and composition, Mehldau, Herbie, Garland and Powell. Of musicians I have actually studied with in person, Dutch guitarists Jesse Van Ruller and Martijn van Iterson both had a big influence while I went to Music College in Amsterdam. I took lessons with Peter Bernstein in New York who approaches the instrument in a very natural and musical way. I have learned a lot from my peers too.
Jazz Special – November 2016
by Brian Petro
Kristian Borring – Silent Storm
(Jellymould JM JJ024)
<i>(DANISH REVIEW – SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH TRANSLATION)</i>
I det senere år har det vist sig at være ganske udbytterigt for danske jazzmusikere at rykke til Storbritannien. Det er der kommet flere gode eksempler på. Et af de mest kendte er bassisten Jasper Høiby, some med soloprojekter og trioen Phronesis har skabt et solid netværk I Londons jazzmiljø.
Fynboen Kristian Borring har nu igennem sine ti år I den engelske storby vist sig som en lovende guitarist med et rytmisk slagfuldt drive og en tindrende skarp lyd. Det kommer fint til udtryk på denne hans tredje udspil, hvis title klart beskriver den modsatrettede fornemmelse, man indimellem kan få af hans på en gang intense og cool spil. En stor gennemgående kvalitet på pladen.
Igennem ti originale og advancerede kompositioner viser Borring en stor spændvidde i stilkendskab, som han deler med sine tre partner in crime, de to englændere, pianisten Arthur Lea og trommeslageren Jon Scott, samt den irske kontrabassist Mick Coady. Alt fra hård swing, viril postbop over afdæmpet nordisk melankoli til kantet jazz-rock fusion foredrages med stor styrke og en kontrolleret vildskab, der klæder kvartetten, og som tydeligst folder sig ud på numre som When He Goes Out To Play, Islington Twilight og Everyman.
Brian Petro (Jazz Special)
In recent years it has turned out to be very rewarding for Danish jazz musicians to relocate to Great Britain. Several great examples of this have emerged. One of the most well known is the bass player Jasper Høiby, who has established a solid network in the London jazz scene with his solo projects as well as with the trio Phronesis.
Kristian Borring from the Danish island of Funen has spent the last ten years in the British capital where he has proven himself to be a promising guitarist with a rhythmically forceful drive and a scintillating sharp sound. This is nicely manifested in his third album, the title of which clearly describes the opposing sense you sometimes get from his simultaneously intense and cool playing. This is a consistent quality on the album.
Throughout ten original and sophisticated compositions, Borring demonstrates a great range of knowledge of styles, shared by his three partners in crime, the two Englishmen pianist Arthur Lea and drummer Jon Scott, and Irish double bass player Mick Coady. Anything from hard swing, lively post bop and mellow Nordic melancholy to edgy jazz-rock fusion is delivered with great force and a controlled ferocity which suits the quartet well and is particularly evident on tracks such as When He Goes Out To Play, Islington Twilight and Everyman.
Brian Petro (Jazz Special)
The Jazz Breakfast – August 2016
by Peter Bacon
(Jellymould JM JJ024)
Kristian Borring (guitar), Arthur Lea (piano), Mick Coady (double bass) & Jon Scott (drums)
The Danish-born, UK-resident guitarist has made two previous albums with pianist Arthur Lea, bassist Mick Coady and drummer Jon Scott, and the lines of interaction are clearly nicely honed. For the most part this is straight-ahead contemporary jazz but there is some rock-fusion tang added in places. Borring says he came to the guitar through blues and hard rock. That led on to Satriani which led on to Metheny and bebop: “I guess the whole fusion genre helped me explore new ground while using my more advanced rock ‘chops’.” A tidy album packed with lively playing from a close-knit band. The Borring quartet is also in the middle of a UK tour.
www.ivanrod.dk – August 2016
af Ivan Rod
(Jellymould JM JJ024)
(DANISH REVIEW – SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH TRANSLATION)
Den danske jazzguitarist, Kristian Borring, har boet et årti i London, hvorfor det ikke er så underligt, at han – når han skal samle et band og indspille en plade (den tredje i eget navn) – finder sammen med britiske musikere. Konstellationen bag ”Silent Storm” er således britisk/irsk – bortset fra det danske islæt, som Borring måtte bidrage med.
Kvartetten, der i øvrigt består af Arthur Lea (klaver), Jon Scott (trommer) og Mick Coady (kontrabas) – spiller danskerens kompositioner på en – for London-scenen – typisk dynamisk, pulserende, lyrisk måde. Man fornemmer, at Borring selv er inspireret af Jim Hall, idet hans egen tilgang til kompositionerne er sejt swingende og underspillet. Men det, man først og fremmest hæfter sig ved, når man lytter til ”Silent Storm” er, at samspillet de fire musikere imellem er klart og intuitivt skarpt. De fire er gode til at lytte til hinanden og sammen raffinere musikken.
Derfor er det også et meget lytteværdigt album, de fire har skabt på det fundament, Borring har lavet på nodepapiret. Et album, med både drømmende melodier og upolerede ballader.
**** / Jellymould Jazz / 60 min.
The Danish jazz guitarist Kristian Borring has been based in London for the past decade, and so it is not surprising that when gathering a band to record an album (the third album with his name to it) he gets together with British musicians. The constellation behind “Silent Storm”, then, is British/Irish aside from the Danish touch with which Borring contributes.
The quartet, furthermore consisting of Arthur Lea (piano), Jon Scott (drums) and Mick Coady (double bass), plays the Dane’s compositions in a manner typical of the London scene: Dynamic, pulsating and lyrical. One can sense Borring’s own inspiration by Jim Hall as he approaches the compositions coolly swinging and downplayed. However, what stands out when listening to “Silent Storm” is the interaction between the four musicians, which is clear and intuitively sharp. The four of them excel in listening to each other and refining the music together.
The foursome has created an album well worth listening to from the foundations laid out on music paper by Borring. The album contains dreamy melodies as well as unpolished ballads.
Bebop Spoken Here – August 2016
(Jellymould JM JJ024)
Kristian Borring (guitar), Arthur Lea (piano), Mick Coady (double bass) & Jon Scott (drums)
Guitarist Kristian Borring’s regular working band went into the studio to record this new release on the back of a concert tour and it shows. On Silent Storm the quartet fires on all cylinders from the opening number. Borring wrote all ten tracks on the album, coming in at just under one hour. The first two numbers (When He Goes Out to Play and Ton) take no time getting into the swing of it. Borring plays with a contemporary edge whilst never losing his firm grip on the jazz guitar lexicon.
Mick Coady’s double bass playing and Jon Scott’s drumming are prominent on Ton with a sense of swing at the heart of it all. Borring’s intro to Intro to Islington Twilight gives a clear indication of the guitarist’s appreciation of the great jazz guitar accompanists such as Jim Hall and Joe Pass. More is the pity that there is but one minute forty-five seconds of it! Islington Twilight itself moves into current groove territory.
Pianist Arthur Lea shines on the swift, swinging Cool It. Borring elects to keep out of the way, the trio swinging, latterly joining proceedings with a beautifully executed solo of his own. The title track – Silent Storm – is a masterful exposition of jazz guitar and the small jazz combo. Borring has certainly found empathetic bandmates in Lea, Coady and Scott. Drummer Scott’s brush work on Silent Storm is particularly impressive. Pianist Lea has a knack of playing the right thing at the right time, exemplified on Nosda, first soloing then comping behind bandleader Borring. Fable closes the CD. Blindfold, one could easily be playing the game of ‘name that tune’. Familiar, yet, it is, of course, a Borring composition.
Kristian Borring’s Silent Storm takes its place on the album shelves alongside recordings by Jim Hall, Barney Kessel and Joe Pass.
AP Reviews – August 2016
by Adrian Pallant
(Jellymould JM JJ024. CD Review by Adrian Pallant)
A COOL, LUMINOUS BREEZE once again permeates the classy grooves of Danish guitarist Kristian Borring’s original music in new album Silent Storm.
Directly following 2015’s late Autumn tour schedule with pianist Arthur Lea, double bassist Mick Coady and drummer Jon Scott (who were also the core line-up of 2014’s Urban Novel), London-based Borring and his quartet took to the studio to capture, within 24 hours, something of the freshness of their live performances; and the shared empathy and vibrancy honed in their time on the road is stylishly communicated throughout this one-hour, ten-track session.
The guitarist’s clear improvisatory journeyings, as always, catch the attention here; and with integral support from Lea, Coady and Scott, he gleefully swings opening number When He Goes Out to Play with a subtly overdriven, wide-skied freedom at which both its title and Borring’s own album cover image hint. This is no underused fretboard, Ton‘s solo guitar lines scuttling across the pacey rhythm section as Arthur Lea adeptly jabs at and chromatically runs across the keys; and the afterglow freshness of Islington Twilight‘s solo guitar introduction belies its punkish drive, later halted by the leader’s attractively phased timbres which recede into the darkness.
April Fools‘ central, homely piano figure encourages eloquent bass meanderings from Mick Coady, wrapped warmly in Borring’s delicate chords – and Jon Scott’s drums, so often characterised by crackling fervour, add sensitive, glinting precision. The purposeful pop-song demeanour of Everyman, which could easily invite a vocal line, instead opens the way for expressive, Latinesque electric guitar as Lea’s piano provides a rockier edge; and Cool It (modelled on Sonny Rollins’ Airegin) flies like the wind, its swift, classic jazz exuberance buoyed by the happy chatter of bass and drums.
Borring’s delicate tracery throughout title track Silent Storm – mainly for guitar trio – might suggest John Etheridge or Mike Walker, yet the Scandinavian inflections here are quite distinctive, creating such gentle positivity. Nosda, too, is finely balanced, as Lea’s piano emphasises its subtle samba rhythms and bright, rolling phrases (Arthur Lea is clearly the perfect melodic partner for Borring, especially evident when their paths intertwine so meticulously); and closing Fable displays all the guitar finesse of Jim Hall with a soft, bluesy, summer’s afternoon swing which reveals, with more clarity than ever, the individual musicality of these fine players.
Joyful, sophisticated and certainly moreish.
The Jazz Mann – August 2016
by Ian Mann
(Jellymould JM JJ024. CD Review by Ian Mann)
“Silent Storm” is the third album release as a leader by the Danish born, London based, guitarist and composer Kristian Borring. Borring first came to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and he has been resident in the English capital for the past ten years and has established himself as a significant presence on the UK jazz scene. He has also studied in Amsterdam with Jesse Van Ruller and Martijn van Iterson and in New York with Peter Bernstein, all of these guitar tutors having a considerable influence on his later style.
Borring released his début album, the promising but rather slight “Nausicaa”, on the Ultra Sound record label in 2011 before making the move to Jellymould Jazz for whom he recorded the much improved “Urban Novel” (2014). “Silent Storm” continues to chart Borring’s progress as a composer with another strong collection of tunes and a broadening of the guitarist’s musical stylistic palette.
Borring’s technical ability as a guitarist has never been in question and I recall being very impressed with him on the only occasion that I’ve seen him perform live, this as part of a quartet led by the Italian born saxophonist Tommaso Starace at The Hive in Shrewsbury in 2011. Borring has also worked with Polish born vocalist Monika Lidke and as one half of a duo with pianist Bruno Heinen, these two releasing the album “Postcard To Bill Evans” in 2015.
“Silent Storm” features Borring’s long running quartet comprised of pianist Arthur Lea, drummer Jon Scott and bassist Mick Coady, the latter having taken over from Spencer Brown around the time of “Urban Novel”. “Nausicaa” featured a number of guest appearances by saxophonist Will Vinson while “Urban Novel” sometimes augmented the quartet with the talents of vibraphonist Jim Hart. However, “Silent Storm” sees the focus firmly on the core group over the course of ten highly accomplished Borring originals.
As a guitarist Borring’s influences are impressively broad as he revealed to Peter Bacon in a recent interview for the London Jazz News website. He began by listening to blues and hard rock (BB King, AC/DC, Van Halen, Nirvana, Alice In Chains) before moving on via Radiohead and Joe Satriani to the fusion of Pat Metheny, John Scofield, the Brecker Brothers and Chick Corea. Working his way further back he discovered jazz guitarists Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery plus other great jazz players of different instruments such as saxophonists John Coltrane, Lee Konitz and Paul Desmond plus pianists Herbie Hancock, Red Garland, Bud Powell and Brad Mehldau. His writing has also been influenced by 20th century classical composers such as Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky and Charles Ives.
Borring’s first two albums featured him deploying a cool, clean guitar sound that evoked inevitable comparisons with Metheny plus contemporary guitarists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Shepik and Ben Monder. On “Silent Storm” he allows himself the opportunity to ‘muddy the waters’ a little by periodically reintroducing something of the rock and fusion sounds that he loved during his youth. This results in Borring’s most varied album to date, and arguably his best.
The success of the new record is a tribute not only to Borring’s continued growth as a composer but also to the excellent rapport of the quartet. “Silent Storm” was recorded in a single 24 hour session immediately following a successful seven date tour. The music sounds thoroughly ‘played in’ and the chemistry between the members of the group is apparent throughout with all four musicians playing an integral part in the music. The improvisation and group interplay is sharp and tightly focussed with Borring leaving plenty of space and opportunity for his colleagues to shine, this isn’t just a ‘guitarist’s album’.
The initial piece, “When He Goes Out To Play”, is an attention grabbing opener with its complex but accessible theme and intricate group interplay. But there’s also a bristling sense of energy with Borring deploying a slightly distorted tone that is vaguely reminiscent of John Scofield. The leader shares the spotlight with Lea who develops his piano solo intelligently and organically above Coady’s powerful bass grooves and the colourful chatter of Scott’s drums. An excellent start as Borring immediately brings those fusion influences to the table.
The energy levels are maintained on “Ton” which is introduced by the bustling bass and drum grooves of Coady and Scott. Borring adopts a more orthodox jazz guitar sound but there’s no let up in the levels of invention as he solos in typically agile fashion. Lea delivers a barnstorming piano solo, the notes cascading from his finger tips as he rides the fiercely swinging grooves now being laid down by an exceptional rhythm section. In this commendably democratic unit Coady and Scott also get their moment in the spotlight with a vigorous and enjoyable set of bass and drum exchanges.
The elegant ballad “April Fools” cools things down a little with Borring exhibiting his Metheny-like gift for melody and adopting an appropriately warm hued guitar tone to match. Coady again impresses, this time with a different kind of bass solo, his playing still highly dexterous but also warmly melodic. Lea eventually emerges from the shadows to deliver a flowing, Jarrett like solo above Scott’s busy, but always tasteful, drum accompaniment.
“Intro To Islington Twilight” is a gently chiming passage of solo guitar that constitutes a delightful prelude to the main piece and functions as something of a ‘calm before the storm’.
“Islington Twilight” itself has an edgy, unmistakably urban vibe constructed around an insistent bass pulse and Scott’s hip hop inspired drum grooves, these topped by Borring’s light and airy melodic flourishes. Eventually the piece appears to collapse in upon itself, paving the way for a more impressionistic closing section featuring Borring’s ambient guitar loopings. It’s a piece that has evoked comparisons with the work of Manchester based guitarist and soundscaper Stuart McCallum.
Running to over nine and a half minutes the episodic “Everyman” represents the album’s lengthiest track, passing through several different phases but never losing the melodic focus that distinguishes Borring’s writing. The leader probes deep with an intense and feverish guitar solo before the tension is dissipated via Lea’s unaccompanied piano passage, this followed by a more conventional jazz solo. The piece also includes an evocative drum feature for the consistently excellent Scott.
“Cool It” is based on the Sonny Rollins composition “Airegin” and represents a nod in the direction of the late Jim Hall who famously worked with Rollins in the 1960s. Borring adopts a conventional jazz guitar sound with a singing tone that is reminiscent of Hall’s. His solos have something of Hall’s cool elegance and easy fluency and there’s also a sparkling, boppish piano solo from the consistently impressive Lea plus a further feature for busy drummer Scott.
The title track is a drifting ballad in waltz time with a folk inspired melody. It has a wistful quality and a spaciousness that reminded me of Metheny tunes such as “Farmer’s Trust” and “Travels”, something further encouraged by Scott’s sympathetic brushwork.
“Nosda” combines quietly insistent grooves with airy melodies and includes relaxed and fluent solos from both Borring and Lea.
Finally we hear “Fable”, the second piece to tip its hat in the direction of the late, great Jim Hall. Borring introduces the tune with a brief passage of unaccompanied guitar before soloing with an understated fluency that again recalls Hall’s style. It’s the most obviously ‘old school’ style piece on the album and also includes a pleasantly quirky double bass feature from Coady plus a gently swinging piano solo from Lea.
“Silent Storm” is a hugely enjoyable album that finds Borring at the top of his game, both in terms of playing and composition. He has gathered together another impressive collection of strong themes, the inherently melodic compositions also packed with plenty of harmonic and rhythmic interest. Lea, Coady and Scott all make major contributions too, supporting the leader with imagination, intelligence and acumen and also shining brightly on their own individual features. This feels like a ‘proper’ working band throughout, with a flexible and intelligent rapport honed by several years of playing together.
For my money “Silent Storm” just edges “Urban Novel” for the accolade of “Borring’s best album to date”. I’m also certain that this is music that will also work effectively in the live environment and I hope to catch the quartet somewhere along the line during their forthcoming tour.
Marlbank – July 2016
by Stephen Graham
(Jellymould JM JJ024. CD Review by Stephen Graham)
There is something very symmetrical and precise about Silent Storm, this new quartet album from guitarist Kristian Borring, most recently encountered last summer playing duos with pianist Bruno Heinen.
Here he is with pianist Arthur Lea, bassist Mick Coady and drummer Jon Scott, in a gutsy modern mainstream setting that was recorded in a Sussex studio in late-2015.
There’s a strong rhythmic urgency and rugged shape to the opening tunes especially, the album becoming a little more introverted as it develops, driven by Scott with Coady as a kind of perennial navigator leaving solo runs to either Lea or Borring. Here too you’ll find a lot of discipline and a compelling drive to the playing, Borring burrowing deep into John Scofield-like territory. The tunes all have an integrity to them and a slight sense of bittersweet melancholia creeps in on the gentler material particularly the delicate delightful strains of ‘Islington Twilight.’ SG
London Jazz News – June 2016
by Peter Jones
(Jellymould JM JJ024. CD Review by Peter Jones)
The third album from Danish-born guitarist Kristian Borring once again features him with his regular trio: Arthur Lea (piano), Mick Coady (double bass) and Jon Scott (drums). The band’s debut, released on an Italian label in 2011, also featured the US-based altoist Will Vinson, and on their second album, two years ago, they were joined by Jim Hart on vibes. This time, however, we get just the quartet, unadorned and self-sufficient.
Last November they headed for the recording studio fresh from a seven-day tour and got the whole thing done in an intense 24-hour session. Borring produced it himself, and all these excellent tunes are all his own compositions.
It was good idea to take advantage of some road-time together, and then to record in a single heads-down effort. You can hear their tightness in moments like the bass and drums duo on Ton. As you would expect, they swing like the well-established unit they are, sounding slick and hip, but melodic throughout; despite their modernity, they play with one foot anchored in the jazz tradition. Take the dramatic opener When He Goes Out To Play. It begins with a syncopated chromatic theme, before Coady settles them into a gorgeous swing groove. Here, Borring’s tone is a stinging rasp, with its possibilities for extra sustain, rather than the clean tone he later employs on, for example, the lovely ballads April Fools and Silent Storm. On both of these quieter numbers you can hear his debt to Jim Hall.
Pretty much every track is a joy. After a thoughtful intro, Islington Twilight rocks along with gusto, somewhat in the style of Stuart McCallum, before stuttering to a halt to introduce a bit of flanged guitar shenanigans on the fade. Everyman is a lengthy workout in the Phrygian mode, rather in the vein of the great Nicolas Meier, which features a solo from Scott in the final section. That’s another pleasing feature of this album: it’s by no means all about the guitar – Borring wants to highlight every member of the quartet.
This is confident, sophisticated work at every level – composition, arrangement, execution – and a pleasure to listen to throughout.
The Telegraph – August 2015
The two albums made by the great Bill Evans with the guitarist Jim Hall a half-century ago are among the most exquisite jazz records ever made. So for young British pianist Bruno Heinen and Danish guitarist Kristian Borring to make a recording of some classical Evans numbers might seem like lèse-majesté. In fact they don’t suffer by the comparison. They’ve avoided the compositions on those two albums, recording seven Evans originals, plus Bernstein’s Some Other Time, Kern’s All The Things You Are and an original number by Heinen entitled Postcard to Bill that could almost be a long-lost original by the great man.Each track is a model of quiet stylishness, with nicely witty touches like the striding bass in Interplay, over which the melody lopes like a gazelle, or the ending of Show Type Tune, where a dancing phrase steps elegantly up the keyboard until it almost disappears off the top. It’s a tribute to how well these players know each other that they can bowl along in swinging rhythms for a minute at a stretch, without treading on each other’s toes. By the fourth track I was beginning to wonder whether the album wasn’t tipping over from sophistication into preciousness, but on numbers like Five real energy breaks through the cool surface. ★★★★☆ IH
Bebop Spoken Here – 4 August 2015
By Lance Liddle
Bruno Heinen (pno); Kristian Borring (gtr).
What a delight! A choice selection of Evans’ classic compositions, a standard and an original by Heinen which is also the title track. Postcard to Bill Evans is arguably the best track on the CD although that is a very subjective and ephemeral judgement as, each time I play the album another one gets its nose in front!
Apart from the title track and All the Things You Are, the other eight pieces are pretty well known items from the Bill Evans songbook reminding us just how talented he was, not just as a pianist but also as a composer. Heinen is deeply into Evans without losing his own identity and fully deserving of accolades from such as The Guardian’s John Fordham – “the kind of erudite and curious new arrival destined to make a real difference”.
Danish guitarist Borring is with him all the way and the pairing often brings to mind the legendary sessions Evans did with Jim Hall.
All About Jazz – July 2014
by Bruce Lindsey
Danish guitarist Kristian Borring has been based in London since 2006, establishing himself as a leader and sideman on the UK scene. Urban Novel is his second album, his first for the small indie label Jellymould Jazz. Recorded in London in December 2012, Urban Novel is filled with Borring’s original compositions and performed by the guitarist in the company of some of the best sidemen in Britain. It’s an album that readily enhances Borring’s reputation.
Borring’s debut release, Nausicaa (Ultra Sound Records, 2011), showed him to be a strongly melodic player. On Urban Novel he continues to demonstrate that ability, which is enhanced by his warm, open, tone—a welcoming sound that draws and holds the attention. Borring is joined here by pianist Arthur Lea and drummer Jon Scott, both stalwarts of Nausicaa, plus bassist Mick Coady.
Where Urban Novel differs instrumentally from the debut album is in Borring’s choice of guest musician, with vibraphonist Jim Hart replacing alto saxophonist Will Vinson. It’s a crucial change, from the contrasting sound of the alto to the much more complementary sound of the vibes. Hart shares Borring’s warmth and fluidity of expression, creating a rewarding partnership.
The tunes on Urban Novel range from the bright, sparky, “Number Junky” to the silky bossa-ish groove of “Arcade Coffee Shop” and the melancholy “(Kasper) In Darkness” and “Urban Novel” which both feature some gorgeous unison playing from Borring and Hart. The vibes/guitar combo is also strikingly rich on “Hipster,” the album’s most immediately accessible tune blessed with a catchy melody and insistent rhythm.
Jazzwise – August 2014
by Selwyn Harris
Review of Urban Novel
Moving to London in 2005 to study for a postgraduate jazz course at Guildhall, the Danish guitarist-composer Kristian Borring releases his second CD as leader following 2011’s Nausicaa. His warm, mellow yet shiny tone draws from the more pastoral, Brazilian-inspired side of the post-Metheny school inhabited by guitarists such as the Gary Burton New York-based sideman Julian Lage. The sound of the latter’s vibes-guitar combo is similarly semi evoked on half of Borring’s originals in his pairing with the in-demand vibraphonist Jim Hart. The guitarist tends to switch frontline partners between Hart and the elegantly chilled southeast London-based pianist Arthur Lea, and the band is well attuned and responsive to Borring’s well-crafted compositions. His soothing, ringing tone on guitar hints at Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour as well as as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Wes Montgomery. If the band can seem reluctant at times to get out of the first gear, Borring’s set of originals are engaging and their subtle rhythmic and harmonic twists add to the interest. Selwyn Harris
The Jazz Mann – July 2014
by Ian Mann
The Danish guitarist and composer Kristian Borring moved to London in 2005 and has since become a significant presence on the UK jazz scene via his work with Italian born saxophonist Tommaso Starace and Polish born vocalist among others, proof indeed of London’s status as a cosmopolitan city and musical melting pot. Borring has also worked with many leading young British jazz musicians, particularly those associated with the SE and Loop Collectives, some of whom appear on this recording.
I first encountered Borring’s playing as part of a quartet led by Starace at The Hive in Shrewsbury in 2011. His enormous technical ability was immediately apparent but this is a guitarist who eschews histrionics, Borring’s is an understated virtuosity and he favours a pure, clear electric guitar sound with little resource to additional electronic effects. As a composer he tends to write episodic pieces with a strong sense of narrative, something which becomes even more pronounced on this his second album. “Urban Novel” has been described as “a personal homage to life in the metropolis” and the tune titles suggest that they have been inspired by real places, people and events. It builds upon the virtues of Borring’s début album “Nausicaa (Ultra Sound Records, 2011), a quartet recording that also featured occasional contributions from guest saxophonist Will Vinson.
For “Urban Novel” Borring has retained the services of two of the Nausicaa personnel in the shapes of pianist Arthur Lea and drummer Jon Scott. Mick Coady replaces Spencer Brown at the bass and for half the programme the group is expanded to a quintet with the addition of vibes virtuoso Jim Hart, a welcome acquisition who brings fresh colour and texture to this latest recording.
Borring’s sound is sometimes reminiscent of Pat Metheny but there also hints of the styles of other contemporary guitarists in his playing, among them Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Monder and Brad Shepik. The combination of guitar and vibes evokes comparisons with the Gary Burton/Pat Metheny collaborations for ECM in the 70s but Borring’s approach is more obviously European and thanks to pianist Lea an additional component flavours the mix.
Borring, Hart and Lea dovetail effectively on complex opener “Hipster” as Coady and Scott handle the tricky rhythmic parts with aplomb. There are enjoyable cameos from Borring, Hart, Lea and even Scott. but the focus is on empathic, closely knit ensemble playing in a piece that hints at the urban bustle implicit in the album title.
“Equilibrium” is more relaxed but no less interesting, its Metheny like melody the vehicle for Borring’s clean toned, coolly elegant guitar soloing. With Hart sitting out this quartet performance allows Lea greater scope to express himself and the pianist responds with a hugely inventive and imaginative contribution.
“(Kasper) In Darkness” is introduced by a Burton/Metheny style vibes/guitar style duet before developing into a dazzling Hart solo in a group context. The vibraphonist adopts a warm, woody tone on his instrument and that warmth is matched by Borring’s own rounded tones on a solo that sounds effortless yet is typically rich in invention. As a composer Borring has the knack of taking complex harmonic and rhythmic ideas and wrapping them up in a melodic cloak that makes his music inviting and accessible.
“Arcade Coffee Shop” is performed by the trio of Borring, Coady and Scott and is as relaxed as the title suggests with the leader’s subtle chording complemented by Scott’s delicately detailed brush work and a languid Coady bass solo. Scott is one of the most in demand young drummers around and his work throughout the album is colourful and imaginative, qualities he brings to all of the many bands he plays with.
The title track has something of an “after hours” feel and features lucid, lyrical solos from both Borring and Lea in a quartet setting. The pair are superbly supported by the inventive Scott, who conjures a fascinating array of sounds from his kit, and the anchoring Coady. The bassist released his own acclaimed album Nine Tales of the Pendulum” on Jellymould Jazz in 2013, a recording featuring the outstanding talents of American alto saxophonist David Binney.
A delightful passage of solo piano introduces “Number Junky”, the piece eventually metamorphosing into something bright, breezy and swinging with further solos from Coady on bass, Hart on warm toned vibes, and the leader on guitar. Here as elsewhere Hart’s use of bows on the bars of his vibes helps to create extra colour and texture and the overall group sound is highly impressive.
It’s the turn of Borring to introduce “Hidden Corners”, his brief passage of solo guitar ushering in the most straightforwardly swinging tune of the set, a vehicle for expansive and imaginative solos from Lea and Borring as Hart sits out. The piece concludes with an extended feature for the excellent Scott who circumnavigates his kit above the comping of Borring and Lea.
The album concludes with a differently configured quartet as Lea stands down and Borring and Hart exchange solos on the tune “Weltall”. There’s a flowing lyricism about both contributions and the support of Coady and Scott is empathetic and well judged.
“Urban Novel” builds upon the success of “Nausicaa” with Borring delivering a stronger set of themes. Although unfailingly melodic this is also highly sophisticated music that is well served by Borring’s undemonstrative approach. For me, the appeal of the album is further enhanced by the presence of Hart, one of my favourite musicians but the entire cast impresses with Scott making a typically immaculate contribution. Capable of a broad appeal “Urban Novel” is an album that should further establish Borring’s reputation as both a guitarist and composer.
Borring is due to tour the music in Autumn 2014 but the full schedule is yet to be announced. Among the locations mooted to be visited during the tour are Norwich, London, Liverpool and St. Ives. I hope the band will play somewhere closer to me as this music should be well worth seeing and hearing live.
The Jazz Breakfast – August 2014
by Peter Bacon
So what’s this Urban Novel all about then? The protagonist is very clever and very cool – he’s called Hipster. Beard, horn rims and skinny trousers de rigueur, I’d say. And that’s how the opening track sounds, Borring’s guitar chiming precisely with Jim Hart’s vibes against a chunky, rhythmic pattern conveyed by Arthur Lea on piano, Mick Coady on bass and Jon Scott on drums.
Borring is a Dane, but moved to London in 2005, and he blends in well with the young crowd of British jazz musicians.
Urban Novel continues from that opening Hipster track through Equilibrium, which is a little more relaxed and flowing but in similar vein. The band has a nice amount of air in it, an artful achievement in a band with three strong chordal instruments. In the course of the album we take some time out at the Arcade Coffee Shop, with a suitably Brazilian/Latin groove, while things get a lot faster and more pushy in Hidden Corners. (Kasper) In Darkness makes good use of the textures and atmospheric potential of these instruments.
An album with no particular stand-outs but a natural flow and a certain coherence to the programme.
Bebop Spoken Here – June 2014
by Lance Liddle
I was impressed by Borring’s previous album Nausicaa reviewed here back in 2011. In the three years that have passed since that recording Borring has morphed into one of the finest, most tasteful and accomplished guitarists on the scene, with Jim Hart – one of the world’s great vibraphonists – in the mix, the result is another triumph for the Danish guitarist and his team.
As the album title implies, Urban Novel is a musical tale of life in the metropolis. Cool and laid back, fast and frantic, tender and reflective, sad and joyous – big city life as we know it whether as commuters, strangers or residents.
All compositions are by Borring who moved to London in 2005 thereby suggesting that this is his take on our capital city but, then again, it could be Copenhagen, Paris or Rome – maybe, to me it’s London. Jim Hart’s solo on Number Junky I see as the hustle and bustle of Soho at night. Hidden Corners is the delightful discovery of something that’s been there for years but which you’ve only just found thanks to Arthur Lea pointing it out to you as befits the action of someone described as a musical explorer and a 21st century Thelonious Monk. Jon Scott’s drum solo adds to the thrill.
If Borring, the architect, the painter of this cityscape and author (musically speaking) of Urban Novel, is the tour guide then bassist Coady is the driver who takes me there without a parking ticket or a speeding fine.
The Scotsman – June 2014
By Kenny Mathieson
Danish guitarist Kristian Borring is one of a number of London-based Nordic musicians making significant contributions to the jazz scene there. This is his second album, following the release of Nausicaa in 2011, but his first on this label. The city itself is a palpable presence in the eight compositions the guitarist has written for this recording, whether in terms of mood and atmosphere (Hipster, Urban Novel) or direct reference (Arcade Coffee Shop, Hidden Corners).
His guitar work, like the overall feel of the music, is clean, cool, precise and contemporary, supported by a solid rhythm trio led by pianist Arthur Lea, with Mick Coady on bass and the increasingly visible Jon Scott on drums. Vibraphone player Jim Hart adds his elegant and incisive presence to half of the selections.
MARLBANK – June 2014
by Stephen Graham
From Denmark, an above-the-radar part of the UK jazz scene for some time now on the club circuit since the guitarist moved to London just under a decade ago releasing debut album Nausicaa along the way, Kristian Borring combines here often tenderly and always thoughtfully with vibist Jim Hart, pianist Arthur Lea, bassist Mick Coady, and drummer Jon Scott. Recording these eight compositions of Borring’s at a London studio in late-2012, many of which owe much to Borring’s Metheny-like version of American pastoralism, the ensemble sound operates via quintet, quartet, or even with Lea and Hart (the latter an imaginary Gary Burton to Borring’s Metheny) dipping out on ‘Arcade Coffee Shop’, a certain persuasive intimacy opening up as the band becomes a pared down guitar trio yet retaining that atmosphere irrespective of setting. Inspired by Borring’s sense of the city, Urban Novel’s narrative is less stream-of-conscious outpouring than guitarist as acute naturalistic observer, the acoustic jazz language at this fine player’s disposal impressionistic and quite romantic at heart. The tunes though complex knit well together and there is a convincing clarity to the improvising thought processes at work that represents a strong statement of intent from an artist we’ll be hearing a lot more from with any luck in the future. SG
Released on Monday 2 June
JAZZWISE – March 2012
By Selwin Harris
Review of Nausicaa
This young London-based, Danish guitarist-composer attended the Amsterdam Conservatorium, then studied at the Guildhall and has been a sideman for the Tommaso Starace Quartet and the Gareth Lockrane Big Band among others. On his debut, with his London-based quartet featuring pianist Arthur Lea, Kairos 4tet drummer Jon Scott and introducing impressive new bassist Spencer Brown, Borring not only favours a fleet-fingered, hip swinging, soul-bop but draws as well from the subtle, gentle lyricism of guitarists such as John Abercrombie and Pat Metheny. If compositions are generally laid back, post-bop mould, there is an engaging brightness to Borring’s sound. Occasional signposts of more contemporary, post-MBASE groove influences on Borring’s originals arise, a couple on which the band are joined by a guest, the eloquent US-based ex-pat Brit saxophonist Will Vinson who has appeared alongside Borring some of his occasional London visits. There’s fluency in the ensemble playing here, and hence the promise of a unique character developing, the more time the band can spend together.
The Guardian – 18 November 2011
By John Fordham
Borring is a Danish guitarist who recently studied at London’s Guildhall School, and who has formed a classy young quartet with pianist Arthur Lea, bassist Spencer Brown and drummer Jon Scott. New York-based British saxophonist Will Vinson joins for three tracks, on a session that undeniably reflects a traditionally hyper-cool and low-key approach to jazz guitar, but reprises it with warmth, confidence and a rhythmic hipness that’s thoroughly contemporary. At first, the music suggests an understatedly swinging feel, with some overtones of Pat Metheny in orthodox-jazz mode, will be the order of the show – a tasteful mix of Latin grooving and assymetrical funk. But Borring soon asserts his character, catching the attention with an echoing, mistily reflective melody over chunkier percussion and electric keys, which develops through fresh guitar phrasing and shrewd dynamics into a loose and open exchange.
The compositions are snappily precise in their use of stop-time and time-signature switches, Will Vinson’s alto sax is subtly soulful, and on the mixed-tempo Invisible Lady, the guitarist lets the grooves work for him, building gracefully unhurried new melodies over them. Bassist Brown sumptuously cushions Borring’s glimmering notes and soft octave-playing on the ballad Lucinda’s Dream, and sax and guitar join on the hip-hop-influenced finale Clapton Cowboys. The set still retains a slightly generic jazz-guitar feel at times, but it’s an accomplished group with promise.
All About Jazz – 16 December 2011
By Bruce Lindsay
Nausicaa is the debut album from London-based Danish guitarist Kristian Borring. It’s an assured and confident debut, demonstrating Borring’s talents as a composer and player. There are some complex time signatures on display, but they’re never overdone and the music remains accessible from the get-go.
Borring studied guitar in Holland and in London, gaining a Masters degree from the Guildhall School of Music in 2006. Since then, he’s worked with a diverse range of European jazz musicians including saxophonists Tim Garland and Bobby Wellins, bassist Jasper Høiby, a fellow Dane, and vocalists Monika Lidke and Christine Tobin.
It’s notable that many of Borring’s past musical partners are strongly melodic performers, for this is also one of the guitarist’s strengths. He’s a melodic, precise player with a rounded, open, tone—akin to Irish guitarist Mark McKnight—and his compositions also focus strongly on melody. Pianist Arthur Lea shares this focus and proves himself to be an excellent interpreter of Borring’s tunes. Bassist Spencer Brown and drummer Jon Scott are sympathetic rhythm players but they are also capable of more assertive playing, giving the music an added edge that ensures it doesn’t become too gentle or laidback. The two are particularly effective on “The Famous G,” laying down an infectious groove underneath Borring’s flowing lines.
Saxophonist Will Vinson—born in London but now based in New York—joins the quartet on three tunes, his punchy but fluid alto beefing up the sound on the swinging “Clapton Cowboys” and delivering some nifty unison lines with Borring on the bop-ish “Last Whistle.” On the gentle “Nausicaa,” he captures the mood of the piece with a more plaintive and reflective approach.
The album closes with “Nausicaa—reprise.” It’s a short piano and guitar duet that emphasizes the melody’s inherent sadness: a lovely if somewhat downbeat ending to Borring’s impressive first release.
Jazzmann – 4 November 2011
By Ian Mann
Kristian Borring is a Danish guitarist and composer now based in London following his completion of a Masters degree at The Guildhall in 2006 after previous studies in Holland. Now a well established figure on the UK jazz scene Borring’s début album features his regular British quartet consisting of pianist Arthur Lea (Paragon, Seb Pipe), bassist Spencer Brown (Porpoise Corpus) and drummer Jon Scott (Kairos 4tet, Paragon). The lineup is augmented on three of the eight original pieces by saxophonist Will Vinson, a musician born in the UK but now resident in New York where he is building an increasingly impressive reputation.
I saw Borring perform live in September 2011 as part of saxophonist Tommaso Starace’s quartet at a gig at The Hive in Shrewsbury. It was immediately apparent that he was a guitarist of enormous technical ability and that he was capable of utilising his considerable gifts thoughtfully and tastefully. These are also qualities that he brings to his own recording. There are no guitar histrionics on “Nausicaa”, instead the music evolves gradually and logically through a series of often lengthy compositions.
All the tunes are Borring’s and the album commences with “Below Sea Level” a ten minute piece that features Borring’s elegant single note improvising and sophisticated chording. There are hints of Pat Metheny but also of more contemporary players such as Brad Shepik, Ben Monder and Kurt Rosenwinkel, the latter having worked with Vinson in New York. Elsewhere the piece features Lea switching between Fender Rhodes and acoustic piano and contributing a flowing, lyrical solo on the latter. Scott brings the same kind of detail and nuance to his playing that he displays as a member of Kairos 4tet and Brown proves to be a supple and adaptable bassist.
“The Famous G” is more groove based with Brown leading things off and providing a strong grounding presence throughout in tandem with Scott’s shuffling grooves. Lea’s Rhodes chording underpins Borring’s nimble guitar soloing before assuming the lead. Here, as elsewhere, Borring favours a pure guitar sound with little in the way of effects.
The tricky, boppish “Last Whistle” adds Will Vinson to the proceedings, the saxophonist linking up well with Borring on some fiendishly tricky unison melody lines before the pair embark on their solos with Borring going first. Vinson’s fluent, pure toned alto follows and there’s also a series of lively breaks from Scott at the drums. Vinson is a player who has grown in stature since I caught his performance at the 2009 Cheltenham Jazz Festival, a concert that was frustratingly cut short by a power cut at the Everyman Theatre.
“Invisible Lady” is a lengthy ballad that begins with the sound of Borring’s solo guitar before developing into a sumptuous Lea piano solo. Borring’s own solo contains some of the most orthodox “jazz” guitar of the set backed by Scott’s neatly energetic drum work. Bassist Spencer Brown also steps forward with a deeply resonant solo backed by Scott’s chattering drums and Lea’s sparse piano chording.
The title track is inspired by Princess Nausicaa who assisted Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey. It’s a typically episodic piece of writing with Vinsons pure toned sax prominent in the mix. Following the theme statement he digs deep in his solo, consistently pushing and probing, before eventually handing over to the warm tones of Borring. Vinson returns to restate the theme before something of a drum feature for Scott in the tune’s closing stages.
As the title suggests “Lucinda’s Dream” is a second ballad feature notable for Borring’s rosy, Metheny like guitar and Lea’s delicate piano lyricism, both well supported by Brown’s sonorous bass and Scott’s characteristically sympathetic drumming.
“Clapton Cowboys” (I’d like to know the story behind that title) marks the final appearance and is a gently upbeat piece of post bop that allows the saxophonist plenty of room to stretch out with a lithe and fluent solo before handing over to the equally agile Borring. The support from the rhythm team on this often complex piece is as assured as ever.
To end there’s a brief reprise of the theme from “Nausicaa”, a duet for just guitar and piano.
“Nausicaa” represents an assured and promised début from this highly accomplished guitarist and composer. Having witnessed Borring live I can attest first hand as to his technical abilities. He’s also an interesting writer but having said that none of his themes here is particularly memorable and arguably some of the pieces are over-long. The sometime presence of Vinson gives the programme a considerable boost but the core quartet of Borring, Lea, Brown and Scott is also a well balanced unit and everybody plays well throughout.
Rather like “Do Or Die”, the recent release by fellow guitarist Mark McKnight, the album sometimes seems a little too polite. However when McKnight took the music on the road in the company of tenor titan Seamus Blake the material seemed to take on a life of its own. The McKnight/Blake gig at Dempsey’s, Cardiff was one of the unexpected highlights of the year so far. Whether Borring can achieve quite the same level of lift off remains to be seen but the core quartet are currently touring the UK.
Bebop spoken here – 25 October 2011
By Lance Liddle
This is a little gem that repeated listening only serves to make it grow on me more. Contemporary Bebop, based on the legend of the beautiful princess Nausicaa who, it would seem, helped Odysseus on his journey in Homer’s Odyssey. Well, when a beautiful princess is so helpful she deserves to be remembered musically and Danish guitarist Borring does just that. Listening to Invisible Lady, Nausicaa’s beauty is conveyed by Borring’s soulful portrait. Lithe and radiant is how it has been described and it certainly is. Superbly supported by Arthur Lea’s sensitive piano-work the disc is a delight to be heard. On three tracks, New York based London altoist Will Vinson augments the quartet and his post-bop sound and phrasing is a welcome edition – he swings in the manner of Pepper. Criss, Morgan. The band do a mini tour in November starting at Dempsey’s in Cardiff (Nov 2) where you can get in for a fiver! Four quid if you’re of a certain age! Matt and Phred’s Jazz Club in Manchester (Nov 3); Spice of Life, London (Nov11) then the actual CD launch on Nov 16 as part of the London Jazz Festival at the Green Man, Camden. Highly recommended for lovers of jazz that’s contemporary and accessible. Soundbites. PS: Bass and drums were PDG too!
LondonJazz – 18 November 2011
By Chris Parker
London-based, Denmark-born guitarist/composer Kristian Borring has been gigging with this band – pianist Arthur Lea, who will be familiar to anyone who’s heard saxophonist Seb Pipe’s band recently; bassist Spencer Brown (Porpoise Corpus); and drummer Jon Scott (Kairos 4tet) – since 2009, and their mutual responsiveness and sensitivity render this album of eight Borring compositions both immediately attractive and enduringly impressive.
Borring is an accomplished but determinedly unflashy player, firmly rooted in the jazz tradition of his instrument, and his rapport with Lea in particular, but also with guest saxophonist Will Vinson (an expatriate Brit resident in New York), makes Nausicaa, its time signatures just complex enough to stretch the musicians while accommodating inventive soloing from all concerned, a fine appetiser for the band’s forthcoming tour of the UK in spring 2012
Guitar Techniques – 11 December 2011
Review of Nausicaa
Danish-born Kristian Borring originally studied contemporary jazz guitar and bebop at the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague and at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam before relocating to London to complete a master’s degree at Guildhall. So Kristian know a thing or two about jazz! His album’s title is taken from Homer’s Odyssey where the beautiful princess Nausicaa lands her aid to Odysseus on his quest – but if that sounds a little ‘concept album’ to you, there is no need for concern. The music is very European jazz and not too far from the output of the legendary ECM label of years past. Backed by piano, drums, double bass and sax, Kristian’s guitar never strays from the melodic, reminiscent perhaps of Pat Metheny is his more sombre ensemble moments. The band has a UK tour in the planning for spring 2012, including summer festival appearances, so the real test will be how well this strong material works on stage.