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Thread: AAJ Review: Jakob Bro, Bay of Rainbows

  1. #1

    AAJ Review: Jakob Bro, Bay of Rainbows

    Few ECM artists, barring perhaps longtime label stalwart, pianist Keith Jarrett, have been afforded the opportunity of releasing two albums within the same calendar year. That Manfred Eicher has chosen to follow up Jakob Bro's impressive quartet date, Returnings, less than seven months later with Bay of Rainbows clearly speaks to the label head/primary producer's appreciation for the guitarist's work. Bro may not be an overtly virtuosic player (though he's clearly capable of more than he largely lets on), but that's never been what's driven the Dutch guitarist. Instead, darkly melancholic lyricism, slowly evolving compositions that are often ethereal--celestial, even--and, also often, an exploration of rubato as an underlying/overlying musical context, have defined Bro's work since almost the beginning: a guitarist more concerned with substance over style, and purity over pyrotechnics.

    Bro first emerged, early in the new millennium, with the group Beautiful Day, releasing four albums between 2002 and 2007. The quartet's first, self-titled Music Mecca debut led to Bro receiving the 2003 Danish Music Award for New Danish Jazz Artist of the Year. The guitarist has gone on to receive the Danish Music Award five more times since then, including recognition for his first ECM date as a leader, 2015's Gefion. Bro has also received a number of other accolades including, amongst them, the 2016 and 2013 Carl Prize, in recognition of his growing skill as a composer for his work, respectively, on Gefion and Bro/Knak (Loveland), his 2012 collaboration with fellow Dane, electronic musician Thomas Knak.

    Bro's discography as a leader (largely documented on albums released on his own Loveland Records imprint prior to being recruited by ECM), has continued to build his reputation as guitarist, composer and bandleader/conceptualist--and, increasingly, on the international stage. Internationally, Bro's best-known work, prior to ECM, was his triptych of albums that, with slight shifts in personnel, was consistently predicated on a core trifecta also featuring alto saxophonist Lee Konitz and guitarist Bill Frisell. Balladeering (2009), Time (2011) and December Song (2013) were all glorious explorations of Bro's largely dark-hued and often-times rubato writing, his approach to guitar clearly informed by Frisell but equally, by the time of these recordings, clearly delineated in their work together.

    Amidst his growing international visibility, Bro also garnered deserved attention for his early ECM work as a sideman. His first ECM date was with the late American drummer Paul Motian, on Garden of Eden (2006). Three years later, Bro contributed an atmospheric presence to (now, also deceased) Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko's then-new Polish/Finnish/Danish quintet. First encountered live at the 2009 Molde International Jazz Festival, the quintet was documented later that year on Dark Eyes (ECM), before being caught, one last time, at an even more impressive show the following year, at the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival.

    Continue reading here...
    John Kelman
    Senior Contributor, All About Jazz since 2004
    Freelance writer/photographer

  2. #2
    Member FrippWire's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Dearborn, MI
    Sounds like Bro has hit it out of the park again. I'm a couple of releases behind in purchases but when I get caught up I already know they'll be wonderful. Being a fan of Abercrombie, Metheny, Frisell and Rypdal, I feel Bro fits in neatly with that bunch.


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