Mathias Eick
Midwest

Mathias Eick: trumpet; Gjermund Larsen: violin; Jon Balke: piano; Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Helge Norbakken: percussion

ECM 2410 006025 470 8910 (6) Release: March 2015

Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick pays tribute to the North American Midwest in an album of intensely melodic compositions which reflect thematically upon journeys and homecomings both literal and spiritual. The original inspiration for the album came during an arduous tour of the US and Canada.

“We’d started on the West Coast and were driving long distances every day. I was beginning to get very homesick. Then we reached the area called the Rural Midwest and I suddenly had the strange feeling that I was home. It occurred to me that some of the early settlers must have felt this way, when they looked at the rich soil of the plains and saw that this was wonderful land for farming. Parts of the Midwest remind me strongly of parts of Norway - including the southeast of Norway where I grew up.” This realization led to thinking about the ways in which both people and music had travelled. Almost a million Norwegians left for North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and eighty per cent of them settled in the Midwest. In Dakota a third of the population claims Norwegian ancestry.

In his music for Midwest, Eick sketches an imaginary voyage from Hem, the village of his birth (“so small there’s not even a street sign”), over the seas to America. The musical concept determined the personnel for the recording. The first player approached was violinist Gjermund Larsen. ECM listeners know him from his contributions to Christian Wallumrød’s albums, but Larsen is firstly a musician rooted in folk playing. He comes from a folk music family and his improvising is informed by his knowledge of traditional music: there’s a sense of history embodied in his sound.

“Gjermund’s one of my absolute favourites,” Says Eick, “and I’ve wanted to record with him for many years. It was a matter of finding the right project to present to him, and this seemed to be it.” Trumpet and violin sing together gloriously here. “It turned out that we have some quite similar ideas about phrasing. And, as the recording session progressed, we grew closer as players, exchanging ideas in the music.” Mathias emphasizes that his drafting of the Midwest project has been intuitive and inspirational rather than musicological: “I’ve never studied folk music so my approach to the concept was more an imaginative one – sketches and impressions of places, landscapes and people, with the idea of the history in the background.” The track titled “Fargo” makes an affectionate nod both to the North Dakotan city and to the Coen Brothers, whose quintessentially American film of the same name employed orchestrations of folk themes from Norway’s Telemark region to underline Midwestern stoicism.

Pianist Jon Balke was a presence already on Mathias’s ECM leader debut The Door (recorded in 2007). Balke’s extensive discography has embraced a vast range of music since he first appeared on ECM in 1975, from free textural playing (see the recent Jøkleba album Outlands) to the jazz of Masqualero’s Bande à Part and transcultural projects (including the widely acclaimed Siwan). Midwest finds him at his most lyrical and outgoing. Helge Norbakken has worked extensively with Balke in projects including the Magnetic North Orchestra and the “percussion think-tank” Batagraf. Mathias Eick praises Norbakken’s ability both to drive the music and to comment on it: “He makes a very significant contribution – creating a kind of three dimensional landscape with his drumming” which also seems highly associative, at times even hinting at Native American tribal pulses or perhaps bison hooves pounding the plains.

Mats Eilertsen is meanwhile well-known as one of the most resourceful contemporary bassists and the loosely folk-influenced jazz of Midwest seems a perfectly logical environment for a player who at the time of the recording was gigging with both the Tord Gustavsen Quartet and Nils Okland’s band as well as his own groups.

Throughout, the compositions and the overarching concept provide an optimal context for the special qualities of Eick’s trumpet soloing – the strong yet melancholy-tinged singing tone, by now immediately identifiable, in this case yearning for home.

Midwest was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. It’s Mathias Eick’s third ECM album as a leader, following on from The Door (recorded 2007), and Skala (recorded 2009-2010). Mathias can also be heard on Evening Falls and Sideways with guitarist Jacob Young, on Northbound and Vespers with pianist-harpist Iro Haarla, and on Playground with drummer Manu Katché.

Mathias Eick is featuring music from Midwest on his current tour. The album was officially launched with a release concert at Oslo’s Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene on February 27. For details of further dates see ECM’s web site www.ecmrecords.com

Midwest

26/02 | 2015

Mathias Eick: trumpet; Gjermund Larsen: violin; Jon Balke: piano; Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Helge Norbakken: percussion

ECM 2410 006025 470 8910 (6) Release: March 2015

Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick pays tribute to the North American Midwest in an album of intensely melodic compositions which reflect thematically upon journeys and homecomings both literal and spiritual. The original inspiration for the album came during an arduous tour of the US and Canada.

“We’d started on the West Coast and were driving long distances every day. I was beginning to get very homesick. Then we reached the area called the Rural Midwest and I suddenly had the strange feeling that I was home. It occurred to me that some of the early settlers must have felt this way, when they looked at the rich soil of the plains and saw that this was wonderful land for farming. Parts of the Midwest remind me strongly of parts of Norway - including the southeast of Norway where I grew up.” This realization led to thinking about the ways in which both people and music had travelled. Almost a million Norwegians left for North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and eighty per cent of them settled in the Midwest. In Dakota a third of the population claims Norwegian ancestry.

In his music for Midwest, Eick sketches an imaginary voyage from Hem, the village of his birth (“so small there’s not even a street sign”), over the seas to America. The musical concept determined the personnel for the recording. The first player approached was violinist Gjermund Larsen. ECM listeners know him from his contributions to Christian Wallumrød’s albums, but Larsen is firstly a musician rooted in folk playing. He comes from a folk music family and his improvising is informed by his knowledge of traditional music: there’s a sense of history embodied in his sound.

“Gjermund’s one of my absolute favourites,” Says Eick, “and I’ve wanted to record with him for many years. It was a matter of finding the right project to present to him, and this seemed to be it.” Trumpet and violin sing together gloriously here. “It turned out that we have some quite similar ideas about phrasing. And, as the recording session progressed, we grew closer as players, exchanging ideas in the music.” Mathias emphasizes that his drafting of the Midwest project has been intuitive and inspirational rather than musicological: “I’ve never studied folk music so my approach to the concept was more an imaginative one – sketches and impressions of places, landscapes and people, with the idea of the history in the background.” The track titled “Fargo” makes an affectionate nod both to the North Dakotan city and to the Coen Brothers, whose quintessentially American film of the same name employed orchestrations of folk themes from Norway’s Telemark region to underline Midwestern stoicism.

Pianist Jon Balke was a presence already on Mathias’s ECM leader debut The Door (recorded in 2007). Balke’s extensive discography has embraced a vast range of music since he first appeared on ECM in 1975, from free textural playing (see the recent Jøkleba album Outlands) to the jazz of Masqualero’s Bande à Part and transcultural projects (including the widely acclaimed Siwan). Midwest finds him at his most lyrical and outgoing. Helge Norbakken has worked extensively with Balke in projects including the Magnetic North Orchestra and the “percussion think-tank” Batagraf. Mathias Eick praises Norbakken’s ability both to drive the music and to comment on it: “He makes a very significant contribution – creating a kind of three dimensional landscape with his drumming” which also seems highly associative, at times even hinting at Native American tribal pulses or perhaps bison hooves pounding the plains.

Mats Eilertsen is meanwhile well-known as one of the most resourceful contemporary bassists and the loosely folk-influenced jazz of Midwest seems a perfectly logical environment for a player who at the time of the recording was gigging with both the Tord Gustavsen Quartet and Nils Okland’s band as well as his own groups.

Throughout, the compositions and the overarching concept provide an optimal context for the special qualities of Eick’s trumpet soloing – the strong yet melancholy-tinged singing tone, by now immediately identifiable, in this case yearning for home.

Midwest was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. It’s Mathias Eick’s third ECM album as a leader, following on from The Door (recorded 2007), and Skala (recorded 2009-2010). Mathias can also be heard on Evening Falls and Sideways with guitarist Jacob Young, on Northbound and Vespers with pianist-harpist Iro Haarla, and on Playground with drummer Manu Katché.

The Door

05/02 | 2014

Mathias Eick, 28 years old, is a musician on the rise. Last year he won the International Jazz Award for New Talent of the International Association of Jazz Educators. For ten years he's been a member of the cult between-the-genres band Jaga Jazzist. For ECM he has recorded with Jacob Young (Evening Falls, Sideways), Iro Haarla (Northbound), and Manu Katché (Playground). As front-line soloist of the Katché band he is playing 70 concerts in 2008. Eick has performed with musicians of many styles, from Chick Corea and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra to Norwegian psychedelic rock band Motorpsycho.
'The Door' is his first leader album and a fine showcase for his writing and his musicianship - his exceptional trumpet playing, but also his multi-instrumentalism: he's heard here also on guitar and vibraphone. As a trumpeter Eick has absorbed many influences - he cites Miles, Clifford Brown, Kenny Wheeler, Tomasz Stanko, Arve Henriksen and Nils Petter Molvær as inspirations - and shaped his own language, which incorporates the history of the modern trumpet.

Eick has assembled a top flight band for 'The Door'. Pianist Jon Balke is in tremendous form, always finding something fresh to intonate, consistently surprising and imaginative both on acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes. Balke's ECM history goes back 30 years, and recent CDs with the Magnetic North Orchestra and his solo 'Book of Velocities' have been acclaimed. Drummer Audun Kleive also has deep ECM roots - with Terje Rypdal's 'Chasers', Charles Lloyd's touring quartet and with Marilyn Mazur. He works well with bassist Audun Erlien, known to ECM aficionados for Molvaer's 'Solid Ether'. Guest Stian Carstensen, previously on ECM playing accordion on Trygve Seim's 'Different Rivers', is one of very few jazz artists to explore the potential of the pedal steel guitar, and also has his own fan base, largely from his popular band Farmers Market.

Personnel:
Mathias Eick - (trumpet, guitar, vibraphone), Jon Balke - (piano, electric piano), Audun Kleive - (drums, percussion), Audun Erlien - (electric bass, guitar), Stian Carstensen - (pedal steel guitar)

Mathias Eick
Midwest

Mathias Eick: trumpet; Gjermund Larsen: violin; Jon Balke: piano; Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Helge Norbakken: percussion

ECM 2410 006025 470 8910 (6) Release: March 2015

Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick pays tribute to the North American Midwest in an album of intensely melodic compositions which reflect thematically upon journeys and homecomings both literal and spiritual. The original inspiration for the album came during an arduous tour of the US and Canada.

“We’d started on the West Coast and were driving long distances every day. I was beginning to get very homesick. Then we reached the area called the Rural Midwest and I suddenly had the strange feeling that I was home. It occurred to me that some of the early settlers must have felt this way, when they looked at the rich soil of the plains and saw that this was wonderful land for farming. Parts of the Midwest remind me strongly of parts of Norway - including the southeast of Norway where I grew up.” This realization led to thinking about the ways in which both people and music had travelled. Almost a million Norwegians left for North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and eighty per cent of them settled in the Midwest. In Dakota a third of the population claims Norwegian ancestry.

In his music for Midwest, Eick sketches an imaginary voyage from Hem, the village of his birth (“so small there’s not even a street sign”), over the seas to America. The musical concept determined the personnel for the recording. The first player approached was violinist Gjermund Larsen. ECM listeners know him from his contributions to Christian Wallumrød’s albums, but Larsen is firstly a musician rooted in folk playing. He comes from a folk music family and his improvising is informed by his knowledge of traditional music: there’s a sense of history embodied in his sound.

“Gjermund’s one of my absolute favourites,” Says Eick, “and I’ve wanted to record with him for many years. It was a matter of finding the right project to present to him, and this seemed to be it.” Trumpet and violin sing together gloriously here. “It turned out that we have some quite similar ideas about phrasing. And, as the recording session progressed, we grew closer as players, exchanging ideas in the music.” Mathias emphasizes that his drafting of the Midwest project has been intuitive and inspirational rather than musicological: “I’ve never studied folk music so my approach to the concept was more an imaginative one – sketches and impressions of places, landscapes and people, with the idea of the history in the background.” The track titled “Fargo” makes an affectionate nod both to the North Dakotan city and to the Coen Brothers, whose quintessentially American film of the same name employed orchestrations of folk themes from Norway’s Telemark region to underline Midwestern stoicism.

Pianist Jon Balke was a presence already on Mathias’s ECM leader debut The Door (recorded in 2007). Balke’s extensive discography has embraced a vast range of music since he first appeared on ECM in 1975, from free textural playing (see the recent Jøkleba album Outlands) to the jazz of Masqualero’s Bande à Part and transcultural projects (including the widely acclaimed Siwan). Midwest finds him at his most lyrical and outgoing. Helge Norbakken has worked extensively with Balke in projects including the Magnetic North Orchestra and the “percussion think-tank” Batagraf. Mathias Eick praises Norbakken’s ability both to drive the music and to comment on it: “He makes a very significant contribution – creating a kind of three dimensional landscape with his drumming” which also seems highly associative, at times even hinting at Native American tribal pulses or perhaps bison hooves pounding the plains.

Mats Eilertsen is meanwhile well-known as one of the most resourceful contemporary bassists and the loosely folk-influenced jazz of Midwest seems a perfectly logical environment for a player who at the time of the recording was gigging with both the Tord Gustavsen Quartet and Nils Okland’s band as well as his own groups.

Throughout, the compositions and the overarching concept provide an optimal context for the special qualities of Eick’s trumpet soloing – the strong yet melancholy-tinged singing tone, by now immediately identifiable, in this case yearning for home.

Midwest was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. It’s Mathias Eick’s third ECM album as a leader, following on from The Door (recorded 2007), and Skala (recorded 2009-2010). Mathias can also be heard on Evening Falls and Sideways with guitarist Jacob Young, on Northbound and Vespers with pianist-harpist Iro Haarla, and on Playground with drummer Manu Katché.

Mathias Eick is featuring music from Midwest on his current tour. The album was officially launched with a release concert at Oslo’s Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene on February 27. For details of further dates see ECM’s web site www.ecmrecords.com

Skala

05/02 | 2014

Mathias Eick’s intensely melodic trumpet occupies the centre-stage in this album of self-penned tunes which will appeal to an audience beyond “jazz”. Against the powerful backdrops offered by his sleek, modern band, driven by two drummers, he delivers richly lyrical soliloquies.

Mathias Eick / trumpet
Andreas Ulvo / piano
Audun Erlien / electric bass
Torstein Lofthus / drums
Gard Nilssen / drums
Morten Qvenild / keyboards
Tore Brunborg / tenor saxophone
Sidsel Walstad / harp

Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick’s new album extends the concept and the panoramic sweep of his ECM debut “The Door” (recorded 2007). “It’s wider and bigger in all directions,” Eick says. “Skala” calls upon the services of more musicians – including, at times, two drummers - and there is more detail in the arrangements. What hasn’t changed is the emphasis on the lyrical soloist at the centre of the production. Eick’s elegant trumpet now has a larger space in which to sing.

“Skala” was crafted, Eick explains, like a pop production. Where most ECM discs are famously completed in three or four days, this project began with five weeks in Oslo’s Cabin Recorders Studio. At the outset, Mathias was mostly alone, sketching demos on a variety of instruments, then inviting players in as needed. The project moved on to Bugge Wesseltoft’s studio, vibraphone was added at Pooka Studio, and the album was completed at Rainbow Studio where it was mixed by Mathias, co-producer Manfred Eicher and engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug.

“Skala” pools new and older compositions, all written by Mathias, and inspired, he says, by music from classical to pop. The title tune is one that the trumpeter says has been following him “for many years”, its network of inspirations including Sting’s 1993 song “Shape of My Heart”. It is one of two pieces on the disc to incorporate the expressive saxophone of Tore Brunborg.

“Edinburgh” was written in the Scottish city, but draws inspiration from Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg and the plaintive cry of Jan Garbarek’s sax. “It’s not always easy to write pieces on the road. But around the time of ‘The Door’ we had a nice tour in Britain, with some very fine grand pianos, and sometimes I’d stay on stage after the gigs - with everyone around me packing instruments! - and try a few things. That was how this melody came up.”

Eick describes “June” as “a light and peaceful song, a reminiscence of summer days”. The piece incorporates the harp of classical player Sidsel Walstad, currently of the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra.

“Oslo”, the album’s most propulsive tune, is a “song of the city. It’s a groove-directed piece,” with Radiohead amongst its pop references. “Oslo” also “brings the idea of the two drummers into play. It sets them loose.” The piece also includes significant contributions from keyboardist Morten Qvenild, best known for his work with singer Susanna Wallumrød.

“Joni” is, of course, for Joni Mitchell, whose work Eick has long admired. A specific association here is “Both Sides Now” in the orchestral arrangement of Vince Mendoza. “I was really touched when I heard that. This piece of mine, ’Joni’, is also several years old. When I had the right musicians in place, like the strong band here, it seemed a good opportunity to look again at some older pieces and set them amongst the newer tunes, to shape an album.”

“Biermann” is named for the Oslo house that Eick rents, a place once owned by German merchant J. F. Biermann, back in the 19th century. “I guess you could call it an ‘hommage’ to my working space. I have a piano there and some basic recording equipment, and it’s a great place to get some work done when I’m in town.”

“The Day After” references the 1970s, and is influenced by sources as diverse as the Jarrett/Garbarek ‘Belonging’ collaboration and the pounding rock piano of Elton John. “The beat, though, is definitely retrospective – not much connection to jazz (laughter). In the end, it’s a pop groove.” Above it, Tore Brunborg and Mathias solo persuasively.

“Epilogue” develops “from the simple idea of softness meeting raw energy”, as Mathias’s tender trumpet soliloquy gives way to typhoon-strength drumming from Torstein Lofthus. “Tostein has a reputation as one of the best rock and roll, heavy metal and jazz drummers in Norway. He’s really one of the stars now, and I wanted to display what he can do…”

On several tracks, Lofthus is partnered with fellow drummer Gard Nilssen. Nilssen took drum lessons with Audun Kleive (drummer on “The Door”) from the age of seven, and has gone on to become a much-admired player, recently winning the Norwegian Jazz Championship with the band Puma. “He’s best known as a jazz and free jazz drummer in Norway, although he also plays in pop contexts,” says Mathias. Both drummers are in the new Eick quintet, a group completed by pianist Andreas Ulvo and bass guitarist Audun Erlien. Ulvo has worked extensively with singer Solveig Slettahjell and recorded several albums as leader of the Eple Trio and the Ulvo Ensemble. A melodically-gifted pianist, he is also a committed photographer (and took the portrait of Eick in the booklet of “Skala”). Audun Erlien, the only band-member retained from “The Door” has also deployed his pulsating bass in the context of Nils Petter Molvaer’s music.

Contact

Booking and management: Musikkprofil.no / pkrekdal@musikkprofil.no
+47 99253393

Past concerts

2015
February
22nd 20:00 TivVre, Utrecht //
21st 20:00 NSJC, Amsterdam //
20th 20:00 STORM! Festival, Ostend (B) //
19th 20:00 LantarenVenster, Rotterdam //
2014
November
28th 20:30 Flekkefjord Jazzklubb, Norway //
21st 20:30 Cosmopolite Scene, Oslo, Norway  //
07th 19:30 Skien Jazzdraget, Norway //
01st 19:30 Tampere, Jazz happening, Tampere, Finland //
October
17th 19:00 Dølajazz, Lillehammer, Norway //
12th 19:00 Jazz på Jølster, Norway //
10th 19:00 Bergen Jazzforum, Norway //
04th 19:00 Jarasum jazzfestival , Korea //
03rd 19:00 Seoul, Korea //
September
25th 19:00 Stavanger Jazzforum , Stavanger, Norway //
June
February
14th 20:00 Nasjonal Jazzscene //
2013
August
05th 20:00 Park der Gärten //
04th 20:00 Pumpwerk, Wilhelmshaveb //
June
20th 20:00 Festspillene in North Norway, Harstad //
18th 20:00 Midtsommerjazzfestival, Ålesund //
May
04th 20:00 Ampere, Munich //
03rd 20:00 Centralstation, Darmstadt //
02nd 20:00 Stadtgarten, Köln //
April
29th 20:00 Jazz Ahead, Bremen //
16th 20:00 Voss Jazzfestival, Voss //
March
22nd 20:00 Paradox Tilburg, (NL) //
20th 20:00 Tromsø Jazzklubb, Tromsø //
19th 20:00 Dokkhuset, Trondheim //
18th 20:00 Sardinen, Bergen //
17th 20:00 Stavanger Jazzforum, Stavanger //
12th 20:00 Union Scene, Drammen //
11th 20:00 Hadeland Jazzforum, Hadeland //
07th 20:00 Arendal Jazzklubb, Arendal //
06th 20:00 Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo //

© Mathias Eick