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Friday, 29 July 2016 23:41

Ten Questions For Marius Neset, Norwegian Jazz Saxophonist

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Marius Neset is a Norwegian jazz saxophonist, living in Copenhagen. He is known from collaborations with the jazz bands People Are Machines and JazzKamikaze, and the Django Bates projects StoRMChaser big band and Human Chain. He is the son of music teachers guitarist Terje Neset and pianist Anne Leni Søfteland Sæbø, and the brother of the vocalist Anna Søfteland Neset and flautist Ingrid Søfteland Neset. He signed up for the label ACT Records in 2013. His first ACT release Lion (2014) together with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, reached international acclaim as one of the most important large ensemble albums of 2014. Marius Neset's quintet album Pinball was released January 2015. His latest recording, Snowmelt - recorded with the London Sinfonietta - comes out in August 2016.


1. You started out playing drums at the age of five; how did that influence you as a musician and a composer?

I think it was very important. I was not aware at the time, but I’ve always been very interested in rhythms. I started to play a groove very early, and then became interested in more advanced rhythmical stuff later – playing songs in 5/4, and 7/4 – but this gave me a great base for when I started to play piano and saxophone. It was the same with piano; I also started to play piano at the age of six. So that gave me the harmonic base. It would have been much harder to learn other instruments if I had started on saxophone, I think.

2. When did you start playing saxophone?

I can’t really remember – I think I was eight or nine.

3. Who were your main influences as a saxophonist?

The first jazz saxophonist I listened to was Charlie Parker, and that was also the first jazz music I learned to play. Later I became a big fan of Michael Brecker’s playing. Those two players had the biggest impact on me when I was young.

4. On your website you talk about other influences, from Radiohead to Röyksopp. How has that shaped you as a musician?

These days I listen primarily to non-jazz – it gives me a lot of ideas, especially when it comes to composing. The older I become, there is only music. So I find myself listening to Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and The Police. I find it very inspiring to listen to other styles of music, including classical music. I am a big fan of Béla Bartók.

5. Scandinavia jazz seems to have quite a distinct sound. Growing up in Norway, did this have much influence on you?

That’s a good question. I guess that sound started with Jan Garbarek and Arild Andersen, the early ECM artists from Norway, and after a while, this started to define the sound. I listened to a lot of those musicians, but I have listened to many other jazz musicians from around the world. Certainly I play some passages which I think have a Norwegian sound, but I don’t know if that’s a conscious influence. Maybe it sounds like Norwegian folk music – and of course, folk music influenced Jan Garbarek too. But certainly, Jan Garbarek was an influence on my playing.

6. You studied with Django Bates. What were the most important mucical lessons you learned from him?

He was incredibly open to everything, I think. He had an enormous creativity. I guess I learned that there were no bad ideas, so when I played him my songs, he immediately had lots of ideas of his own – based on what I had done, taking it in different directions. Playing in his band also changed the way I play. The way he reacted to my playing was different to anything I’d heard before, and I found it opened a lot of new doors and gave me a lot of ideas. I generally became more creative; it was very important to me.

7. We loved Sun Loving, your CD with Lars Danielsson and Morten Lund; how did that collaboration come about?

It was quite random, really. Morten Lund called me and Lars, and asked if we would like to come. He had a day booked in the studio. They both bought some songs, I bought one song – it was very spontaneous, the whole thing. We’d only played together once before, and that was a sidemen, many years ago. We did maybe two takes of each song, and worked very fast. Listening to it afterwards, there were many interesting things happening; because it was spontaneous, and in the moment, you can’t really plan it. It was very different to what I’m used to; for my own work, I might plan things for two years!

Read our review here: http://www.kindofjazz.com/index.php/component/k2/331-danielsson-neset-lund-sun-blowing

8. You have a new album, recorded with the London Sinfonietta, coming out in late August. Tell us more…

That project is my big dream! I started working on that back in 2012, and we recorded the album in March 2015. We were able to get the London Sinfonietta, which was fantastic, because they are one of the best modern chamber orchestras in the world. They played my music better than I could even imagine, a fantastic experience. The sound in the recording studio, AIR Studios, was incredible, and to work with the conductor (Geoffrey Paterson) was an amazing experience. The way the band played the rhythmic stuff was astonishing, because that’s unusual for a classical orchestra. This has been my big project for the last few years, so I’ve very happy it’s coming out now. We’ve got some shows coming up too. 

9. You’re playing at this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival. Is that the first time you will have played with them live?

Yes, so I’m really looking forward to playing that gig. It will be huge!


10. What do you have planned for the remainder of the year?

I have one more album that is finished! I did a commission for the the Philharmonie in Cologne. It featured my quintet, which is on the Pinball album. We also went to the studio and recorded it, and that album is now finished, but I don’t know when that is coming out. I’ve also started to plan my next album, but that’s a long way out. I really need to slow this down!


Read 3647 times Last modified on Monday, 08 August 2016 19:08

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