Harald Haugaard and Anders Mogensen - Spirits - CD
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Harald Haugaard and Anders Mogensen
Spirits (Go Danish Folk)

Haugaard seeks new ground in this fusion of Danish folk music and jazz-rock sensibilities. Jazz percussion, guitar and bass by Anders Mogensen, Krister Jonsson and Jonas Westergård bring new ideas to the Danish folk dance tunes they grab and reinvent. It's agressive but never distorted, and the power of Haugaard's fiddling is never overcome by the strength of Mogensen's drum kit.

Listen:
Amagerdans
Folkert vals
Reventlow saet

The musicians:
Harald Haugaard : Violin, Viola and Hurdy Gurdy
Anders Mogensen : Drums
Krister Jonsson: Electric and acoustic guitar
Jonas Westergård: Double Bass

The artists' say in the cover notes:
Fusing the languages of jazz and folk music is nothing new. Swedish saxophone player Lars Gullin proved in the mid-fifties that a jazz expression could very well be imbued with the mood (though he rarely played Swedish folk songs per se) of his country's folk music tradition. Later on: More Swedes: pianists Jan Johansson and Nils Lindberg, Norwegian saxophone player Jan Garbarek, Scottish drummer John Rae, Italian clarinet player Gianluigi Trovesi, to mention just a few, have been fusing - more or less directly - their own roots with the sort of (ba-sically American) jazz language, they've also been familiar with for most of their lives.

With the prosperity and rejuvenation of Dan-ish folk music that we have witnessed in re-cent years, it should come as no surprise that one of its greatest talents of his generation, fiddler Harald Haugaard ("DUG", "Serras", "Sorten Muld", "Haugaard & Høirup"), dares to go into what is for him uncharted land, band-wise, at least. But then, that the three jazzmen here go along with Haugaard (and do it so well) will not cause many raised eyebrows, as they have all long proven themselves to be curious, unprejudiced and adaptable.

Both Haugaard and drummer Anders Mogensen (a jazz drummer with 15 years of professional experience) have long been teaching at the Funen Music Conservatory (folk music and jazz departments, respectively), and after checking out each other's playing a few times (to mutual delight), they agreed upon taking things a step further. Mogensen got hold of guitar player Krister Jonsson and bass player Jonas Westergaard, the playing of whom he was familiar with, and Haugaard supplied the 'book': little-known tunes from various Dan-ish fiddlers' notebooks of one or two centu-ries' vintage plus three of the greatest Danish medieval ballads (Ramund, Ebbe Skammelsøn, and Valravnen) and one recent tune of his own. A couple of days of rehearsals and two days in the studio.

In Haugaard's words: "Twenty rehearsals and one day in the studio for each song? No thanks. What is interesting is all the doors opening up while we're playing, all the things you discover along the way. That the music is being created right now and right here. Now, that is interesting. Playing with jazz musicians gave me a lot, particularly so, because I consider my own approach to music to be very loose ... very open."

It might be that folk music fundamentalists will consider the quartet's interpretations an hour of blasphemy. Sorry folks, I couldn't care less. What I consider most essential here (not forgetting the individual contributions and the teamwork-spirit) is that this music most convincingly and open-minded is reflecting its past and its present.
At the very same time. Past and present. Here and now.
(August 2004)

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