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There is no hurry to this music, but there is great depth. Absence is as powerful as presence for Bro; each phrase is perfectly plucked from the ether.

Jon Carvell, London Jazz News

On his second leader album for ECM – following on from the prizewinning Gefion - Danish guitarist Jakob Bro continues to refine his trio project, with its emphases on melody, sound, space, layered textures and interaction. The rapport between Bro and bassist Thomas Morgan (Bro calls him “my musical soul mate”) has become something extraordinary, as guitarist and bassist develop improvisational ideas in the moment. There’s an historical aptness, too, in the choice of Joey Baron as the band’s new drummer, for Bro first encountered Morgan when the bassist was playing in Baron’s band a decade ago.

“I’ve always seen music as a whole,” says Jakob Bro, “not as an outlet for me to display guitaristic things. It’s important for me that everybody in the group has an equal responsibility in the making of the music. We’ve played a lot now, and the pieces keep changing. I enjoy setting up moods and textures for us to work on, and to explore together, but I don’t insist on any specific directions. I have no fixed expectations of where the trio music should go, and I want Joey and Thomas to trust their ears and pursue the directions it seems to be suggesting. For me this is the most exciting aspect of the project. I love playing with this band, because new things are happening in the music all the time. The music wants to go in its own direction. It’s our job to follow it. In a way, that’s what the album title, Streams, is indicating.”

Streams was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in November 2015, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The recording features five new Bro pieces: “Opal”, “Full Moon Europa”, “Shell Pink”, “Sisimiut”, and “Heroines” which is heard in both a trio version and a touching solo version. “Gefion had also included a solo guitar piece, so we were continuing that tradition. I hadn’t prepared a solo arrangement: the idea came up in the studio. Manfred said ‘Just play the melody, then stop.’ So I followed his advice. “

The open group improvisation, “PM Dream” is dedicated to the late Paul Motian. Jakob’s approach to melody in general acknowledges the influence of Motian, and both Bro and Morgan played at different times in Paul’s ensembles.

“‘PM Dream’ was a very spontaneous piece,” Bro recalls. “We basically made the album in one day. At one point we were discussing whether to go into the control room and listen to some takes and Joey said, ‘It feels so good to play right now, let’s keep going and see what we get.’ It really felt like a dream space to be in, and ‘PM Dream’ came out of that.’”

Throughout Streams, Joey Baron dives into the music’s detail with obvious pleasure. He takes over, in the trio, from another drumming great, Jon Christensen, who played on Gefion. (Jakob Bro’s association with Christensen, meanwhile, now continues in a new project with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg; an ECM album is due in 2017). Bro has a lot of praise for both drummers. “Jon’s approach in the trio could be very unpredictable, extreme and mysterious and I loved that. But the creative way in which Joey plays opens up more room for me somehow, and as a group we’ve been working more on ideas based around different time feelings as well as steady pulses.” 

© Studio Svengali, May 2024
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