If you haven’t heard of Jaga Jazzist, they’re a Norwegian ten piece electronic jazz fusion ensemble. Or something, I don’t really know what they should be called, and I don’t think they do either. Their most recent album is called One Armed Bandit, and you should totally get it if you know what’s good for you. If you are ALREADY a fan of Jaga Jazzist, you’re probably reading this review to see if they manage to replicate their multi-layered sound on stage.
The answer is no, they don’t manage to do it. They could though, but that would be boring. Why would anyone want to hear them play the same live as they sound in the studio? What is this, a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert? Jaga Jazzist doesn’t have HITS to play – shame on you!
What Jaga Jazzist does instead is infinitely multiply their sound to bring the audience a lush, torrential, psycho-symphonic, wall of their trademarked slightly electronic, completely jazzy sound. Everyone on stage was completely bombastic and explosive. Martin Hornveth (the drummer, and the man with whom Nick and I shared an interview a while ago), was the most ferocious of all of his bandmates. He certainly made up for the fact that he was the only one on stage not switching instruments after every song. Well, I said that for emphasis, I think the (electric) bassist (whose name I am finding it impossible to discern) might have retained his for the whole show as well. The two of them play multiple instruments on the albums anyway.
Because there are ten people on stage playing intricate, overlapping rhythms it’s kind of hard for the band to improvise unless they go for a big band solo type deal. There’s bit of this on occasion, but Jaga Jazzist’s main pull is their energy, their bombasticity.
As the band has just wrapped up its current North American tour, I would urge our European readers to check their touring schedule frequently to see when they begin again. In the meantime, I’ll wait for them to return to New York City, and hope it doesn’t take seven years this time.