I was contacted by Jens Larsen who is a guitarist with the band Traeben who are from Denmark and really play and sound great. I found it particularly interesting as I am in a band with the same instrumental format. I urge you to check out their website (follow the highlighted links on the band name) as there’s some great tunes. One of the reasons I started doing the interviews was to get an insight into players from different countries and how they ended up on the path that lead them towards jazz guitar.
01. What/who were your initial influences?
When I was 12 my best friend could not play with me when on Thursdays because he was having guitar lessons so I thought I’d get lessons too.I started having lessons every Monday. I had classical lessons until I was 19. Where I lived in Denmark you could only learn classical guitar. When I was in High school I started playing in the school band on the electric guitar of the school, and later I got one myself. When I moved to a bigger city to study mathematics at the University I started to take lessons in electric guitar. From there I drifted from classical via blues and rock into jazz because I discovered that I really liked playing with other people and also improvising. I was amazed that so many rock bands were not improvising, I thought all solos were improvised at that time. When I discovered Charlie Parker, I was searching the library for some fusion that I liked and that was that! I did not find any good fusion untill many years later.
02. Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?
I am at the moment in the middle of the release tour for the 2nd Træben album: “Push”. We released it in the Netherlands in March and it will be released in the rest of the world on October 1st. Træben is my main project right now. We have been playing quite a lot and the band functions really well, and in more ways than just playing, so that is very nice and I am really enjoying that. Push is the first album where I really got to write a lot of music and that’s also a reason for me to be proud of it. Push has been very well-received in the press and also with bookers so we have not had too hard a time getting to play concerts, and we have had featured videos on All About Jazz, and there are two reviews coming up there too. This first part of the release tour has taken us through Benelux and we are now planning to go to Germany and Scandinavia in 2013. We are also in the process of writing the next album and testing the tunes live. I guess I feel very blessed at the moment.
03. What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?
I am not sure if I have my desert island guitar. I have been playing an Epiphone Sheraton for the last few years and I really like it and it sounds great, but I just bought an old Ibanez 2630 which feels better, but I still did not get it setup with the strings I use, etc so I can’t tell if that is it. It might be though, at least for now, until I want something else it never ends…
04. Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?
The best concert I ever saw did not have guitar in it. I saw the Dave Holland Quintet on North Sea Jazz nine years ago (I think..), and that was really great! It completely blew away everything else I saw that day. For guitar I don’t know of one thing. I’ve seen Kurt Rosenwinkel quite often and that was always great. Charlie Hunter, Nguyen Le, Scofield they are also all fantastic. I’ve seen quite a few Scofield concerts too, I am never going to get tired of that. I saw Allan Holdsworth Trio live last year which was great too. I have realized that I need to go see more concerts. When I see live music I take so much more with me, and it keeps me going for weeks after. The last concert I saw was the new Chris Potter quartet that was fantastic too. I hope I get time to see something again soon. I never saw Gilad Hekselman live and it’s been a long time since I saw Ari Hoenig.
05. Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?
There are many. Nguyen Le is great and he is in jazz circles not that well known. I’ve had the fortune to hear him in more mainstream jazzlike settings and he is good at that too though not always very true to tradition maybe. All his world music influences are also interestingand a lot of his arrangements are great.I saw a concert from an Icelandic band called ADHD which was great! Maybe it is more the songs and the way the band works than the guitarist, but the concert was fantastic! Underplayed very dynamic and very intense! In the same way I really like the Danish guitarist Jakob Bro’s stuff, even though it is completely different. He has made some records with Bill Frisell and Lee Konitz that are very nice. Somebody showed me a video with Prasanna and Vijay Iyer which was very interesting too, completely different approach in some ways, the whole sitar phrasing on a guitar is very interesting. Another guy whose name I don’t hear so often is Lorne Lofsky. I have one of his CD’s, “It Could Happen To You” and that is great!