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Rock + jazz + dance = Jaga Jazzist

It's taken Jaga Jazzist a little longer than their peers to make their mark in the wider world, but after sold-out European tours, and widespread acclaim from the worlds of jazz and rock, Jaga are now an established presence, The Observer writes.

09/02/2004 ::

'In Norwegian, "Jaga Jazzist" kind of means "a hunted jazz musician",' explains Martin Horntveth, one tenth of the finest party band to have emerged from the place where rock, jazz and dance music meet.

Formed in the mid-Nineties around the nucleus of percussionist Horntveth, his multi-instrumentalist brother Lars (who was 14 at the time), tuba-playing sister Line and an expanding coterie of musicians, they were determined to make a big, joyful racket that knew no boundaries of genre.

'We wanted to have a big, big band, but not one playing big band jazz,' says Horntveth. 'One that played everything from rock to electronic music, to drum'n'bass, to classical music, to avant-garde. Everything. We slowly put together the band with friends and with people we'd never met before, people with really different musical backgrounds.'

The result was - and is - a riot of sound, rooted in the dynamics and instrumentation of jazz (lots of brass and woodwinds, a Fender Rhodes) but able to access the blazing rush of dance music and the fist-in-the-air abandon of rock. Jaga bring a grandeur and wistfulness to their songs that belie their roots. Well, some of their roots. Although the 'J' word is inescapable in discussions of Jaga Jazzist, they really don't consider themselves to be jazz.

'We want [our music] to sound free, but we are really careful about everybody not improvising all the time. That would be total chaos,' reflects Horntveth. 'We work hard to play as little as possible. It is really structured. Most of [our music] is written with notes and scores, and then we set it free.'

Click here to read the whole article published 1 February by The Observer.

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