Interesting developments on the third Jakob Bro album recording night

Geschreven door: Dick Hovenga

 (vertaald door: Nausikaä de Blaauw )

Label: ECM Records

The third night of album recordings at Flagey, Brussels, turned out to be something of an in-between night – What do we already have? What more can we do? And where do we still want to go? – resulting in an evening not as exciting as the first and not as impressive as the second, instead an evening that defined the contours of the new album.

What goes on in the minds of musicians when they get to play new music for four nights in a row remains a mystery. Even if you speak with the musicians afterwards. Their intent is clear up front: try out as much as possible. See how new pieces can work in different ways. And hope for an audience that participates, because recording with an audience creates a different kind of energy.

The Thursday and Friday night audiences were great. You could feel their energy, enthusiasm and love for the new music radiating to the stage. It gave the trio wings. However, every night is different, Saturday night audiences are different, and as a trio you can’t really afford repeats (it worked so well yesterday…), either.

For example, on Friday night the walk-through from the opening to the next two elongated pieces worked great. On Saturday, partly due to technical problems, it just didn’t work as well, and the audience was slightly less alert. Still, that opening piece can already be considered an unadulterated Bro classic (working title: E major/Opening piece), with its wide-ranging guitar playing.

Just as exciting on such a third evening: ‘Are we going to try out again or are we going to refine’? Tonight, their versions of Paul Motian’s Untitled #2 and Bro’s own splendid composition Song #2 sounded like final versions. Beautifully balanced and perfect in sound. A mighty chemistry between Bro, Christensen and Blade.

The rest of the set on this third night was a bit of a wait-and-see. As a visitor who was lucky to be there during all three nights, I was waiting for that spark that kept coming during the first two nights. And even though they played great, there was slightly less energy coming off the stage. I think this was partly because the audience was more reserved. This way of recording an album no doubt is a challenge, and an interesting learning process at that. It just goes to show that interaction between musicians and audience is so very important.

During the first two evenings, the pieces that sounded a bit heavier impressed the most, for they contrasted so beautifully with Bro’s well-known subdued pieces. And Christensen’s and Blade’s drive made the audience experience a whole other dimension in Bro’s music.

The third evening flared up briefly, with another somewhat heavier piece (title again unknown) in which the musicians almost lost themselves psychedelically. Wonderful to hear, to experience. Then came an entirely new composition, written the night before, that again sounded wonderful right away.

It’s super interesting to witness this album recording process. To witness it for four nights, makes it even more special, being able to experience them trying out and searching for what works best. Sometimes they just concentrated on getting the composition in perfect shape before consciously losing themselves on the waves of improvisation to feel the soul of the composition.

At this point it’s just guesswork: of all the music played throughout these evenings, what will eventually end up on the new album (release 2023)? Obviously, Bro, Christensen and Blade cannot be anything but deeply satisfied with what has already been put on tape. However… Bro always hits his best beats at the end of tours, so without a doubt the closing night will yield even more great stuff. I can’t wait…

Photo’s: Olivier Lestoquoit