Martin Horntveth performs in Rotterdam in 2013. (Photo by Marcel van Leeuwen)
Jaga Jazzist, the eight-piece nu jazz group from Norway, closed their set at the Black Cat Sunday night with a tranquil piece of music called “Washington, DC Skyline.”
Well, it was actually called “Oslo Skyline,” but the group’s composer Lars Horntveth has been redubbing it after each city in which his collective performs as they have embarked on a U.S. tour in support of their new album, Starfire, released June 2.
Running over a leisurely 5 minutes, “Oslo Skyline” is a snappy, brassy jazz tune that might not be unlike the end result of a composition by Henry Mancini in the ’60s had he been armed with a synthesizer. The track appeared on the band’s 2005 album, What We Must, which was released just after the band’s last DC appearance 11 years ago.
And so it was a rare treat indeed for an ardent group of enthusiasts to bring the Cat to half capacity Sunday and to listen intently to compositions from the new album, which run anywhere from 7 to 14 minutes roughly. With numbers generally running that long, Lars and company managed to fit in about 10 compositions in about 90 minutes of stage time, performing three out of five selections on the new album and revisiting past favorites, particularly from What We Must and 2010’s One-Armed Bandit.
The band opened their set with the sweeping “Starfire,” the title track from the new album, clocking in at about 9 minutes. In so doing, Jaga Jazzist set the tone for a sparkling instrumental cascade of resplendent horns and guitars.
Jaga Jazzist (Photo courtesy Motormouthmedia)
I have to confess that I wasn’t that familiar with Norwegian collective Jaga Jazzist until the release of their most recent album Starfire on June 2 via Ninja Tune.
As their name implies, Jaga Jazzist is all about rather progressive jazz. They have embarked on a North American tour in support of their new album, and they come to the Black Cat on Sunday, June 21.
Jaga Jazzist has eight members, but its core is a trio of siblings — Lars, Martin and Line Horntveth. They started the band in 1994, when Lars was 14-years old. As the main songwriter for the group, Lars recently sought inspiration outside of Norway. In December 2012, he moved to Los Angeles.
“Inspired by the space around him, the size of the sky above him, the endless light flashing past as he drove round the city at night, he began composing the new suite of works, which would become Starfire,” according to a press release on the album.
The other members of Jaga Jazzist would visit him to record in his home studio. Once the rough album was complete, Lars took it back to Oslo to finish it.
The result is ornate, intricate pieces like “Oban.” Watch Jaga Jazzist perform “Oban” in a recent Oslo session:
Tickets are available online and at the door. Nashville musician Peter Barbee, aka Among Savages, opens for Jaga Jazzist.
w/ Among Savages
Sunday, June 21