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Music for Black Pigeons



Ohne viel reden
gemeinsam Musik machen
Die Welt verschönern



Vorgestern habe ich mir den Dokumentarfilm Music for Black Pigeons über Jakob Bro und seine Musikerkollegen von Jørgen Leth und Andreas Koefoed im fsk in Berlin-Kreuzberg angesehen. Davon hatte ja schon Henning geschwärmt (s. Filmplakat oben rechts).

Ein phantastischer Film, mit Lee Konitz im Mittelpunkt, der anfangs eine wunde Lippe hat, dann in den Avatar Studios in NYC im Dezember 2012 auf dem von Henning schon erwähnten Album December Song – es war der magische Opener Laxness, wenn ich mich nicht irre – für einen gefühlvoll-lyrischen Altsaxophonton nicht von dieser Welt sorgt und dessen Grabstelle – er starb im April 2020 an Covid – Jakob Bro am Ende besucht. Ein anderer wunderbarer Moment ist das Stück To Stańko, das dem 2018 verstorbenen polnischen Trompeter Tomasz Stańko gewidmet ist, vom 2021er Album Uma Elmo. Neben Bro an der Gitarre sind hier Jorge Rossy an den Drums und insbesondere Arve Henriksen an der Trompete zu nennen, sein unverwechselbarer „nebliger“ Ton, bei dem ich meine, den Wind zu hören, wie er durch einen Bambushain weht. Manfred Eicher verschlägt es vor Emotion die Sprache beim Hören der Aufnahme. Auch toll der geistig-körperlich noch frische Drummer Andrew Cyrille am Ende, der in New York noch so einige Fans zu haben scheint. Bei den Interviews, wo sich die Musiker vorstellen und dann etwas zum Lebensziel bzw. dem Grund, wieso sie Musik machen, sagen sollen, sieht man dem Kontrabassisten Thomas Morgan lange beim Schweigen zu. Seine erste Sprache ist offensichtlich die Musik.

Etwas traurig, wir waren gerade mal vier Leute im Kino und ich habe den Altersdurchschnitt gesenkt. Der Film läuft in Berlin noch bis zum 4.10. um 18h im fsk bzw. um 20h in der Brotfabrik.

War is a lesser or greater part of human’s daily reality. Almost a year ago it came very close to all of us and changed a lot. We don’t have to be speechless and also can dance. 


It has left its traces in music openly, subliminal, hidden, furiously, shadowing, encouragingly, desperately, hopefully …  I posted an example by Jason Moran from Saalfelden. Here’s is another one by Arve Henriksen in trio with Jakob Bro and Jorge Rossy. It was February 25 at Amsterdam Bimhuis, the day after RuZia’s raid on Ukraine … It’s these emerging moments that stuck. Here an impression in four (short) steps:











(c) FoBo_



Sunday morning I went to the last screening of this documentary at IDFA in Amsterdam with musical friends. It went much deeper than the first time. Tears were flowing …  The episodes touch on higher questions in such a down-to-earth way! For instance, when Lee Konitz (1927-2020) leaving the venue in Sisimiut*, Greenland, the Taseralik Culture Center, notice an unguarded baby in a buggy outside. He is surprised to see the baby  ‘left alone’ there in the cold. Someone then tells Konitz that it is normal to do that: “The father is inside the building to buy vinyl records. The baby sleeps and is even snoring.”** Puzzled Lee walks towards the buggy to check it. And indeed the Inuit baby, wrapped up warm, sleeps blissfully in the buggy, wonderfully softly snoring. Lee looks in astonishment for a moment and then wishes the baby a happy life before entering the car with his bag containing his alto saxophone. It’s a little daily life scene having a deep impact within the context it is perceived.


The documentary wanders from little moments like this quickly changing from one to another but laying embedded in the quiet, trustful flow of Bros’s music both mutually illuminating each other. The music gives space to the successive episodes and binds them. It is significant that the creation of Bro’s tribute to trumpeter Tomasz Stanko (1942-2018) with whom he played, emerges from a situation in the film with a child, from s scene where Bro plays with his little son. 




The jump cuts continuously open surprising, touching turns that draw the viewer deeper into the temperaments and personal life sides of the musicians. Especially the character of Lee Konitz and his special creativity gets contour  this way. It is a trade mark of Jørgen Leth’s narrative style fusing here with Bro’s musical flow and Andreas Koefoed’s dynamics and views in productive, illuminating ways. There are lots of these moments: in the recording studio, at home, during travels, that come alive through being combined with each other in that surprising way in the documentary revealing deeper layers then. Sometimes it is just mutual joyful gazes of the musicians at the end of a take in the studio – as for example when Paul Motian proposes to play a piece again and slower. It’s a magic moment but it is not lengthened or heightened but leads into the next jump cut. There is no hierarchy in the cuts and just that creates the magics here. A lot of filmed everyday life situations get significance through their connection with different kinds of pictures, for example musicians’ self statements given in front of a blank wall. It wouldn’t be good to tell more about the magic ‘moments’ in the documentary because doing it would damage the discovery feeling of viewers of future screenings. 


It all comes forth from the the special way Koefoed and Leth filmed where and when, thereby collecting sensitive material from which this concentrated, magical documentary  could be distilled and assembled. It is a fantastic, productive combination of method and intuition at work here. The oldest footage is from 2008 when Andreas Koefoed started to follow Bro by filming. Leth came in from 2015 on when making an extensive documentary got shape. 


The documentary shows that Bro has a special gift to gather people in music making that goes beyond the conventional recording or concert situation. It apparently brings musicians who join and commit themselves to it, enter a primal situation. And, in a way with the documentary the same can happen with viewers. 


The documentary will be screened on Documentary/Film festival and several Jazz Festival in 2023.


*   Sisimiut is the second city (5600 inhabitants)  on Greenland after the capital Nuuk. It was part of a Nordic tour, the Balladeering tour, of Bro’s group with Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz, Thomas Morgan, Lee Konitz via Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Greenland back to Copenhagen in may 2015. I considered to join the group for that unique tour but it did not work out. Finally I attended the last concert of that tour at Danish Radio Concert Hall in Copenhagen together with my son who was studying in those days in Copenhagen.





There is a piece „Sisimiut“ on Bro’s album STREAMS from 2015. It’s on YouTube Premium.


 ** It is quite common use in Denmark to leave babies unguarded outside in their buggy.

2022 18 Nov

Jakob Bro, Lee Konitz and more

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In „Music For Black Pigeons“ saxophonist Lee Konitz plays an important role. As I told earlier here Jakob Bro was keen to play with older musicians as Jon Christensen, Palle Mikkelborg and Konitz. All three are embodiments of the history of jazz. Konitz (1927-2020) had a long long career and played with Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano in his early years. Trumpeter Kenny Wheeler (1930-2014) was another candidate. I wrote about Wheeler’s involvement and the role Konitz got in Bro’s music. You can read it HERE. There you can also find music of Wheeler with Bro.

There is a lot of material with Lee Konitz on Youtube and there is this wonderful album „ANGEL SONG“ (1997) on ECM with Kenny Wheeler, Konitz, Bill Frisell and Dave Holland. Wheeler and Konitz are unique voices you must have heard in your life.




Lee Konitz has his very own funny manners as you can see in „Music For Black Pigeons“. Here is an early hilarious example of that when Konitz played in a show dedicated to the music of Charlie Parker




I saw Konitz, who lived in Cologne for quite some time, live several times. The most magical was a concert I saw in Bucharest, the evening of July 5, 2015, that took place on an open air stage on a midtown square in Bucharest:

a huge crowd lost in a leap of time listens to his music in full devotion. Time seemed to have been turned back for a while. A glow of sound arises from a nostalgic aura seizing the square’s listeners, a rare sensation. LEE KONITZ is playing … , a totally immersing experience, unforgettable.

It actually had started messy with some coordination problems between the musicians, Thomas Rückert, Jeremy Stratton, George Schuller and then all of a sudden it turned …
to read HERE 




The music documentary MUSIC FOR BLACK PIGEONS is a a truly astonishing and moving cinematic WONDERWORK of high musical sensibility fully captivating all senses 90 minutes long until the last scene! A deep work evoking many smiles, also laughter, fun and giving touching insight in processes of music making! 


I saw the screening yesterday night at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in impressing cinemascope format … it’s hard to let the exciting experiences sink to the back- or underground of my mind. I will definitely go for a second screening.


It is a masterly rhythmically cut documentary and thereby effortlessly criss-crossing drawing lines between musical lifes. It’s significant and touching even when you are not familiar with some of the persons. It’s a docu about living for music, with music, and by music.


Congratulations to Jørgen Leth, Andreas Koefoed and Adam Nielsen who worked on and filmed for this magical opus during 14 years documenting musicians working with guitarist Jakob Bro under diverse circumstances: Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Thomas Morgan, Jon Christensen, Palle Mikkelborg, Joe Lovano, AC, Joey Baron, Craig Taborn, Jorge Rossy, Andrew Cyrille, Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Midori Takada, Arve Henriksen, Tomasz Stanko, Manfred Eicher.


At moments the pictures were like a fairy tale and it IS a fairy tale. But also very real and thus firing our phantasy (and becoming more real).



2015 17 Jul


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Das Jakob Bro Tentet ist eine hochkarätige Angelegenheit mit drei Kontrabässen (Thomas Morgan, AC, Nikolaj Munch Hansen), drei unterschiedlichen und sich gegenseitig ergänzenden Bläsern (Jesper Zeuthen, Andrew D’Angelo, Chris Speed), zwei Schlagzeugern (Jakob Høyer und Kresten Osgood), einem Elektroniker/Tastenmann (Nikolaj Torp Larsen) und der Stimme des Aarhuser Schriftstellers Peter Laugesen, alles gelenkt von Bros leiser Gitarre.

Zeuthens ungewöhnlicher scharfer Klang lodert und Larsen arbeitet sogar mit alten Tonband- maschinen. Das Tentet spielt in dieser Besetzung regelmäβig in Dänemark, zuletzt auf den Jazz Festivals in Kopenhagen und Aarhus.

Das Tentet ist ein eindrucksvoller Beweis für die immense Kraft und Gewalt, die aus einer klaren, einer reichen und sich selbst verstärkenden wie erneuernden Melodie entspringen kann. Aus ihr entwickelen sich der enorme Schub und die enorme Fülle. Bei Konzerten vergeht die Zeit im Fluge, will sagen, man vergisst die Zeit.

Viele Instrumente zumal von der gleichen Sorte brauchen nicht zu Brachialmusik zu führen. Dass es anders geht, hat als erster Paul Motian mit seiner Garden Of Eden Gruppe (2006, ECM) gezeigt. Mit Vermehrung der Instrumente wurde die Musik immer leichter. Als ich Motian zum letzten Mal traf, verkündete er fröhlich, dass er neben den drei Gitarristen (Bro, Monder, Cardenas) nun auch DREI Bassisten habe. Dazu gehörten AC und Thomas Morgan, die auch in Bros Tentet spielen, und der altbewährte Jerome Harris.

Eine Studioaufnahme aus dem letzten Jahr ist jetzt als Album mit dem Titel Hymnotic/Salmodisk erschienen. Es ist als (gratis) Download HIER erhältlich und bei Konzerten als attraktiv gestaltete Vinyl zu erstehen. Die Vinyl-Ausgabe enthält die Texte von Peter Laugesen in dänischer und englischer Version. Die Konzerte sind natürlich das Real Thing, der Tonträger eine gute Erinnerung an die Fülle und Seele der Musik. Oder er kann hinführen, je nachdem.

Der Klang ist full blown, bewegt sich aber genau am anderen Ende des Kontinuums gegenüber dem Fire Orchestra. Reminiszenzen sind am ehesten Charlie Hadens Liberation Orchestra und Carla Bleys grössere Ensembles.

Three murmering basses:

Thomas Morgan, AC, Nikolaj Munch Hansen + The voice of poet Peter Laugesen


©FoBo_HenningBolte (Konzerte Kopenhagen und Aarhus, Juli 2015)

2015 27 Mai

In Richtung Norden

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Guitarist J a k o b B r o organized a very special (Northern) tour along places in Norway, Iceland, Faroe Island, Greenland and Denmark with LEE KONITZ, BILL FRISELL and THOMAS MORGAN. You can read about it on All About Jazz here

A special documentary film by Jørgen Leth about the tour and the musicians is in preparation to be released next year. Leth is one of the most illustrious figures of cultural life in Denmark.



Salut und Abschied

After last week’s wonderful, magical concert-tour in The Netherlands
with Thomas Morgan and Joey Baron …
get ready for GEFION

GEFION featuring Thomas Morgan & Jon Christensen.

It will be out on ECM Records the following dates in 2015:
6th of February – Denmark & Germany
9th of February – United Kingdom
3rd of March – USA


Danes are fond of vinyl with carefully designed sleeves and boxes. Vinyl is not an exception but on the contrary in some circles it seems to be considered as the essential part of an album release. It has become a philosophy and an artistic must. Vinyl with a carefully designed sleeve as an artifact is the real thing. It tells how much the musician(s) believe in it, it is a way of wooing listeners and it gives way to a special kind of perceiving music.

On vinyl an album is presented as a present. And in case you receive a copy by an artist you feel really honored. It makes a lot of difference thus. As a consequence I had to continue my travel from Copenhagen to Norway and back to Holland with a bunch of vinyls what also makes a nice difference. I brought them all home safely and enjoyed every piece of it.

I already introduced Simon Toldam’s black trio-album with Nils Bo Davidsen and Knut Finsrud as well as the new Eggs Laid By Tigers album with its perceptual reversible picture on the sleeve. A tiger-face is recognizable and also the physiognomy of Dylan Thomas.

What makes the Toldam album so distinguished is its sound quality which is true to the place where the music happened. That is reflected and framed by the beautiful sleeve noir and its salient typography. It differs all through aurally and visually from the hyperbolic, hypernatural stylization of contemporary piano-trio recordings. Its switching, shifting and jumping characteristics with its moments of finding, connecting and diverging is not presented as fireworks but as down to earth be here playfulness.

Many albums on ILK are released as vinyl only which means it is primarily perceived in that format and identified with it.

One of it is the upcoming new vinyl-album of Peter Bruun, Unintended Consequences.
It features pianist Søren Kjærgaard, reed-player Torben Snekkestad, trumpet-player Eivind Lønning and bassist Jonas Westergaard. The sleeve shows some old school, old fashioned filing features: a name-badge plus, similar to a an old studio sheet of recordings, handwritten information on track-titles, musicians and some additional info. All (mis)guiding allusions – common in these days – are eliminated, expectations are downplayed. No mysteries are evoked besides one: there will be some unpredictable, creative music. That may help to decondition listeners’ minds. Each copy of the Unintended Consequences vinyl is numbered and has some additional handwritten info on the back of the album on the making of the music:

„The consequences of an act may be unintended or intended. A state of affairs is an unintended consequence of an act if it results from the act, although it was not the aim of the act to bring about this state of affairs. An intended consequence of an act, on the other hand, reflects a will, plan, or desire to make a particular state of affairs obtain. Only conscious beings with complex mental states can have aims in this way. Tables and avalanches, for example, do not.”

A thorough review soon.

Different aesthetics are manifestated by the releases of HIATUS, a label run by composer/saxophonist Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard. There are vinyl only releases as well as releases on more than one storage medium.

Løkkegaard himself has released his extraordinary opus Vesper last year. Vesper features Jakob Buchanan, flugelhorn, Jakob Bro, guitar, Marilyn Mazur, percussion and four clarinets (Ole Visby, Tine Vitkov, Birgit Bøgh Sønderiis, Mette Alrø Stoktoft) on the label. For a review see HERE and HERE.

Recently Hiatus has released two remarkable and very different piano-albums. First the highly idiosyncratic solo-album of pianist Johannes Richter titled 13 Pieces:

and Heights by pianist August Rosenbaum, featuring eminent bassist Thomas Morgan, the guitarists Joel Gjærsbøl and Jakob Bro, the saxophonists Lars Greve and Otis Sandsjö as well as percussionsts Mads Forsby and Victor Dybbroe. It is Lostinadream/Dreamlost music from the rushing ether with a very quiet form of electronics. Part of it a masterful solo passage by Thomas Morgan. And more. A wonderful ballad on side B – stopping time passing for a fraction of a second, then catch up with it again …


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