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Monica Borrfors

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Listing posts tagged with the Nordic countries

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Meet The Mind Flowers


Jonas Waaben playing drums

An article with Jonas Waaben from The Mind Flowers. Photo Wilfred Gachau

 

 

My name is Jonas and I am a member of the band The Mind Flowers. We are three guys from Denmark and we have known each other, and played music together, for a very long time. We have been The Mind Flowers for about a year. Before this band we played in jazz- and funk-groups, and in more rocky set ups too.

With The Mind Flowers our music was quickly described as psychedelia. It wasn’t so much that we had decided on becoming a band that played psychedelic music, but when people started describing us in this way we used it ourselves.

''Down The Line'' by The Mind Flowers

 

We know each other very well musically. We improvise every time that we play together. It’s like a meditation, and if you improvise a lot together you are able to communicate without words. Improvising a song structure can also give the music a psychedelic feeling.

The cultural explosion that took place between 1966 and 1969 is something that is still heard. It affected all art.
People sometimes say that they had expected our music to sound the same from one song to another. They had expected a certain type of sound. But psychedelia can be many things, it can be r’n’b influenced for example. We are interested in the early phase of this music, when the sound wasn’t stereotyped and what it was was more open. We don’t deny that this is an inspiration, but we don’t want to be a retro band. We are trying to do our own thing. Bands like The Seeds, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, Ultimate Spinach, 13th Floor Elevators and Strawberry Alarm Clock inspire us. But we grew up in the 90’ies and listened to The Red Hot Chili Peppers too, during a time when it was possible to mix comedy with cool in music, something that is extremely rare today.

 


The Mind Flowers
Photo Kia Hartelius

Music is now a full time occupation for us. We spend 30-40 hours a week in the studio rehearsing.

Music to me is what takes place when sounds mean something. It can be minimalistic, it can be huge. It can be avant-garde but people can still dig it. These days artists have to go a long way for people to ask ‘’Is this music?’’.
The Mind Flowers are now a successful underground band in Denmark, but that is nowhere near where we want to go. We want to take this show on the road to many places. We want to see our own music evolve.

We are currently mixing an album. It is a collection of songs that were written over a few months. We went to a farm to record it, and we recorded like crazy around the clock. There was no engineer going home at 4 o’clock out there. The rooms out there happened to sound beautiful.

 

''Japanese Hills'' in the video version, a collaboration between The Mind Flowers and dancer Marie-Louise Nielsen.

 


The Mind Flowers are Emil Bureau: lead vocals & guitar, Jonas Waaben: drums & backing vocals, and Niels ‘Bird' Fuglede: bass guitar. Formed in 2013 they were signed by Levitation Records in 2014, and are currently mixing their first album. Find out more HERE.

Meet Monkey Plot


Monkey Plot

An article with Monkey Plot


We are three guys from Norway who have played together for four years. We met each other whilst studying our Bachelor´s degree in Improvised Music and Jazz at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Two of us, Christian & Magnus, are currently doing our Master´s degree with Monkey Plot being one of our main masters projects.

But the ambitions of Monkey Plot goes far beyond the grounds of the music academy, and the band has for some years been touring, playing at concert series, festivals and collaborated with other artists.

Our main focus is of course to play music. This summer we will be recording our second album, and before that we will be playing at Molde Jazz Festival. During the fall we are   going to Japan for ten concerts, and we will also have projects with the swedish poet, writer and musician Pär Thörn and with the norwegian performance-vocalist Lisa Dillan, among other things. 

Music is so many things. It is highly important. It’s important socially and important as an art form. When becoming a jazz musician nowadays you know that you will have to do most of the work yourself. We depend on each other and are lucky to be in a supporting environment. Besides Monkey Plot we all have other musical projects(Karokh, ICH BIN N!NTENDO, PGA, Wolfram Trio) which gives nourishment both to the creative processes and our income.

Our music is free improvisation, but for some people it sounds composed.

 

As a band we have many of the same musical preferences and know what Monkey Plot should sound like, even if every concert offers big surprises.

 

For listeners it may not always be possible to recognize the music from concert to concert, but you will definitely recognize the sound of the band and may hear similar moods or us returning to known musical areas.

We want everybody who has the time to listen to do so. The experience is of course individual, but people have described it as both meditative, trancing, cinematic, groovy, noisy and strange. People listening to the records without knowing what they are listening to have claimed that it is «music of the indigenous people of Amazonas», «music of Japan», and some even thought it to be «from the middle age». The common experience is often that they find the music calming.

We are not trying to reach any specific audience.

My name is Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard, and I’m the bass player in Monkey Plot. My bandmates are Christian Skår Winther on guitar and Jan Martin Gismervik on drums.

Me starting playing the bass was a bit of a coincidence:

I was in a rock-band as a child, and everybody wanted to play guitar, so I took on the big burden of playing the bass.

It turned out to be a big fascination and an instrument that gave me a lot of freedom and the opportunity to play different kinds of music. Today I don´t think much about it and try not to let the instrument limit my musicaIity. Or to put it in another way: To enjoy the limits of the instrument.

It could be any instrument I guess, but so far it has given me the possibility to play with the people I want to play with so I´m very satisfied about that.

I play both upright and electric bass, and of course the downside of playing the upright bass is that it can be a both chaotic, scary and expensive to bring it on the airplane. My upright bass is from the 18th century and I don’t want to risk it. I usually borrow bases or take a train if I play around Scandinavia.

 

Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard 

 

"Lov og lette vimpler", album by Monkey Plot (2013)

 

 

 

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Jazz singer Monica Borrfors sums up her career to date

An article with Monica Borrfors

Monica Borrfors

An article with Monica Borrfors


This year I'm turning 60, and I can look back on 35 years as a touring musician! It's almost unbelievable. That I would still be active under the circumstances is something I wouldn't have guessed.

Music has always been part of my life. From my early childhood onwards. My father always kept the radio at a high volume. He bought record players all the time, and collected a vast number of all sorts of records.
A mother who had been given the chance to study the violin and piano, and dabbled at playing the accordion when there was a party on the island where we spent our summers.
There was a sense of security in listening to adults talk, laugh and sing to my mother's accordion during the summer nights.

My father played Ella and Louis Armstrong on the record player and in a child's manner and with the open mind that a child has, I imitated that sound and gained, probably without thinking about it, a sense of syncopated music.
I chose music as extracurricular activity at high school where I had a teacher who opened up our senses to music in a wider perspective.

He was a trained church organist from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, with a higher degree and a diploma at organ playing. He did a few hours as teacher at my school a week while working in church.

He was a controversial teacher in those days. Among all teachers we had, he was the one with shoulder long hair, a big beard, and boot cut, orange-colored pants. Wearing necklaces and rings in his ears he expressed the new era. The scene-changing 60'ies.

The music that he introduced us to had huge range. It was everything from Jimmi Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge, Miles Davis to Pretorius and Bach.

He took us to Konserthuset in Stockholm to see a young Keith Jarret.

He had his own band that played extremely great pop music, which he toured with.

When he needed new members for his church choir it was a certainty that one said yes to the proposal. He staged major works of church music and we even got to sing pieces to a full symphony orchestra, which he directed. He wrote choral motets for  the morning services many of the Sundays when we were to sing, which we rehearsed the same morning. It was a fun and stimulating time.

I had a quite dark alto voice, which he became interested in, and he started to write some music for me.

It began with pop-based songs but went more and more in the direction of jazz. A style of music that he had devoted all his time to since the 50'ies. It was ''his'' music. To get an education at the Royal College of Music had really been more of a necessary evil, as the time for jazz music was regarded as past and pop music was the new. The future would reveal that it was an education that had major significance.

I  was given the chance to sit in with his band, and that was when I took my first steps as a soloist, and at the time with Janis Joplin's repertoire, among others'.
Our interest in each other developed over time, into a huge and strong love, and suddenly we had 4 children.
My plan had of course been to become a midwife, and I worked in the maternity ward at the hospital in Danderyd while I was studying, touring and had our own little children.

It was a life and a pace that I wasn't able to keep in the long run. After 10 years in the maternity ward I left my job and started singing jazz full time 1983.
The debut as a jazz singer had taken place a few years earlier, when we had put together my own quintet, ''Monica Borrfors Quintet''.

There were many long tours in those days. We were one of the best bands in the country, but it wasn't until 1987 that I got to make my first album.

I won the vote at the jazz magazine Orkesterjournalen to make a recording. The record was named ''Your Touch'', after a ballad which my husband Gus had written, with a text by our friend, guitarist and singer Eric Bibb.
In 1988 we won a Grammy for that album.

My second album, ''Second Time Around'', was released in 1990. That one also got its title from a ballad by Gus and Eric. The arrangements were made by Gus and one of the major jazz saxophonists in Sweden, Bernt Rosengren. In those days we had a young drummer whose name is Magnus Örström in the band. After a few years and many tours he later left us to join the internationally acclaimed band EST, with Esbjörn Svensson and Dan Berglund.

This production was also nominated for a Grammy.
It wasn't until 1995 that I made my next album. I recorded for BMG in ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm.

That was a record with only ballads. Wonderfully arranged and scored by Gus and the brothers Henrik and Ulf Jansson. Guys who these days write for a large number of international artists such as Celin Dion for example.

The record was given the name ''Slowfox'' and I like it a lot to this day.

I believe that it should have been nominated for a Grammy but the record company had a pop group called ''Kent'', which they wanted to launch, so it wasn't even handed to the nominating jury.  Such a shame in my opinion. Gus and I went over to BMG in New York to talk to them about my record, but at the time BMG was heavily into launching a young Canadian singer by the name of Dianne Krall, and that was it.

I made two albums with the Swedish group ''Sweet Jazz Trio'', which is made up by Hans Beckenroth -- bass, Mats Larsson --g uitar, Lasse Thörnqvist -- cornet, and I toured a bit in Japan with them.

Then I started to sing in my own language and made a record with jazz musicians from Gothenburg. It was Lars Danielsson, upright bass and cello, Anders Kjellber, drums, Tommy Kotter, piano, and Staffan Svensson, trumpet. The trombonist Nisse Landgren produced, and played on, the album. The CD was named ''Monica Borrfors in plain Swedish''.

In recent years I have also interpreted one of Sweden's legendary jazz singers -- Monica Zetterlund -- on two different records -- ''Monica sings Monica'' and ''Li'l Darli'n''.  Monica Zetterlund -- who among other things recorded with many international jazz musicians such as Bill Evans.

I was compared with Monica Z early on, so it was probably high time to do her music. I have done hundreds of concerts during the last few years, when I have told the story of her life and sung her unforgettable songs.

I have always stayed faithful to jazz. That is not an easy choice, but to be in that context and work with the musicians I have had the privilege of working with has of course shaped me into the person I am and the person I have become. I am deeply grateful for it.

Well, it has continued, so to say, with recordings, tours, tv, radio. You forget quite a bit as time goes by.
When I was younger I struggled hard to gain respect for jazz music in Sweden. I sat on different boards and we made calls on the ministries. At the time I was considered to have the gift of speech, which meant that I often got to voice the interests of jazz music.

I was involved in starting the jazz club Fasching in Stockholm and sat on its board. I was on the board of Svenska Rikskonserter for 6 years, and during several years in the Swedish Jazz Academy etc.

Music has opened a lot of doors and I have gained friends in high and low places.

When I in 1992 was about to do a tour with my own group, which started in Kuala Lumpur, continued to Singapore, and onward to New Zealand and Australia, I received a lot of help from our then prime minister Ingvar Carlson. We have been close friends since.

The music has taken me to China, Japan, South East Asia, the former Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, large parts of Europe and the Scandinavian neighboring countries. That would probably never have happened if I had continued on as a midwife.

I have played with amazing musicians, both Swedish and international. I did my first tv-show in the early 80'ies with musicians such as Toots Thielmans among others. I have worked with the Big Band at the Danish national radio, and with big bands here in Sweden, as soloist in different situations.

I believe that I am the female jazz singer in my generation in Sweden who has toured the most.

Nevertheless I have never felt as if I have neglected the family and our children. They have after all been the top priority in mine/our life/lives.

As a jazz musician you of course have to face times of unemployment, and during those periods you really wonder how you ventured into this line of work. The upside is that we have spent time with the children, who are all grown-up, secure and self-sufficient these days.

Gus and I have had the opportunity to travel and play together for years, and we still do.

When I write these words we're expecting our 10th grandchild any hour. It is indescribably major!
At the same time I sit here booking gigs and arranging forthcoming tours. Life as a jazz singer hasn't made me rich in any way, financially, but it is and has been a rich life in so many other ways. Would I have done it all again, knowing how it all is and has been?

That question requires some thought, but I'm leaning towards answering ''Yes''. I shall return to this question when I turn 90. Perhaps I can answer it then.


- Monica Borrfors





Monica Borrfors is a jazz singer who is based in Sweden. She has released nine albums, including her Grammy-awarded album debut ''Your Touch''. She has also contributed to several other artists' albums. Beyond working on her own career Monica Borrfors has devoted energy to improving the working conditions for musicians in Sweden through several official organizations over the years. Monica is married to the musician Gösta Nilsson.
Find out more
HERE.

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Svante Karlsson talks about Junior Dad

Svante Karlsson writes about 'Junior Dad'


One of the most breathtaking and hauntingly beautiful moments in music during the last few years.  Lou Reed ''Junior Dad'' live in Dresden in 2012, with a surprise firework.




Svante Karlsson:

 

  - I will never see or hear anything the same way after this



Svante Karlsson

        Svante Karlsson writes about "Junior Dad". Photo Jonas Westring



  - When I first heard ''Lulu'' I was slightly disappointed. It was an experience that tore me up a little. But then there was ''Junior Dad''. At the very end. I had already heard from my friends that it was the song to really listen to on the album, but of course I played the entire thing. Needless to say I always listen to a Lou Reed album start to finish. No shortcuts.

  ''Junior Dad'' hit me hard. The seven-eight minutes at the end was a haunting soundspace. I interpreted that bit like it was Lou Reed saying ''Turn this off when you're done. I have said what I wanted to say.''. Those seven-eight minutes could just as well have been forty minutes if there had been space for that on the disc. It was how I perceived it, as a space to think in.

  The King of one-liners, Lou Reed. ''Junior Dad'' almost instantly struck me as something that could very well be the magnificent grand finale to a legendary career. The song made me sad and happy at same time. It describes a dream-like scenario as well as the awakening from a dream. The rhythm of the drums, the dramatic start/stop fills -- it sounds like reoccurring heart-failure. I don't think that he wrote ''Junior Dad'' for ''Lulu''. I think that he added this song to close that album. Then I saw the live-version...

 

  The song was on my mind as I went to Copenhagen on June 18 2012. I was convinced that it was the last chance to see Lou Reed live for people in Scandinavia. Overall it was an amazing gig. And, at the very end - before the encores - there was ''Junior Dad''...

  A few naked chords for the most part, tai chi and spoken words. And he knew which chords to put behind his words to bring mist to the crowds' eyes. Electric violin. Poetry. A moon rising on the backdrop, just as the drums had pounded their way to the end. Complete brilliance.

  I was so taken by that moment that I didn't know what to do. It was the most astounding moment that I have ever experienced at a concert, and I told myself ''I am hearing this right now. This is it. This is as far as any artist will ever take a live-experience. I will never see or hear anything the same way again after this.''.

 

  In his output it became the last song in a way - now that Lou Reed is gone. To think that he could write something like that, possibly knowing that the end was coming closer... It's such a dignified grand finale, still vibrating with creativity at its highest level.

  The closing words echoed in my head as my friend and I left the theatre.

  "The greatest disappointment. Age withered him and changed him. Into Junior Dad".




Svante Karlsson is a singer-songwriter based in Sweden. He has released four studio-albums and a live-album to date, including two albums with his renditions of songs by -- among others -- Bob Dylan and Kinky Friedman, and two albums with his own compositions. Karlsson has also contributed to many other artists' output.

Musicians' Corner asked Svante to write something about his experience of this song, and he kindly agreed to doing so.


Lou Reed, March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013. We miss you.




 

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Percussionist extraordinaire Marilyn Mazur shares an important memory

An article with Marilyn Mazur



Marilyn Mazur
An article with Marilyn Mazur. Photo by Stephen Freiheit



  '' - Miles Davis called me to ask when I could be in New York. I hadn't been there since I moved away from that city, my birthplace, at 6 years of age. Of course I couldn't refuse this great musician. Three days later I was playing with him. And playing with him for three years made me accepted the way I am. When you live in Denmark it's hard to be too different and gain respect without a stamp of approval. My music didn't fit into any boxes, so I was automatically seen as experimental. Playing with Miles gave me the permission to be myself. ''



Marilyn Mazur with Miles Davis


  '' - I liked the music that Miles played at the end of the 60'ies - the beginning of the 70'ies the best. By the time that I played with him the music was a little too set for me. He liked that I put some colors in there. I didn't really feel at home in the band. I missed the musical communaction, I was used to. After a year I left the band and went to play with Wayne Shorter for a year, then Miles asked me to come back. I stayed another year.''



Marilyn Mazur with Jan Garbarek


  '' - I then decided to leave. It was a really hard decision. I had gotten government backing for projects at home in Denmark. But it was a difficult decision. Miles only lived for a year after that. He had asked if I could write some music for him and I never did.


  - Miles Davis had deep powers into the roots of life. The things that were supposed to happen did happen. It all turned out the way it was supposed to turn out.''



Marilyn Mazur with Marilyn Mazur Group in 2013




Marilyn Mazur is a percussionist, drummer, composer and bandleader. She has worked with many musicians, and many projects such as Future Song and Percussion Paradise. She is currently working with Celestial Circle and Marilyn Mazur Group. Listen to samples of Marilyn Mazur's music here

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