Music Park: Jaga Jazzist @ Black Cat — 6/21/15

Jaga Jazzist & Sinfonia Rotterdam @ Motel Mozaique 2013
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.

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