Eivind Aarset  exclusive  ...cont'd.




Which musicians would you like to join you for a project like that?
I want to do some rehearsals with Audun and the drummer in my band, Wetle, and weíll see what comes next.
Just to figure out and check out things and maybe use it as it develops a tune. So weíll record and see what happens.

Are you planning about touring with Wetle and Audun Erlien or Marius Reksjo or are you thinking about something new?

Iím thinking about something new but itís mostly in terms of music, of making new tunes, new concepts, changing the music a little bit.
In Norway weíre still touring with the 'Connected' material, but Wetle and me started to do this practicing with rehearsing, checking out new ways
to do some things. Not leaving electronics out, but maybe using them mostly for beats, maybe having more acoustic drumming and then bringing
electronics in between playing. So that beats donít have to be too low, too hard.

Using a lot of electronics can lose dynamics; instead you work on the mood of the song when you play.
Thereís a large dynamic range in the band, a lot of interplay. How would you feel about playing with someone else?

I think that sometimes it could cause problems, especially when itís too much inside the box, coming totally from the computer. In my trio we always strip down,
strip down [he explains with gesture like peeling a banana] . Now, with the 'Connected' material, itís only some programming that fits in well with Wetleís style
of playing. So it all sounds like one big drum kit.

In your playing, you merge electronic and acoustic moods. Does it matter more to play something you like,
or is it more important to balance electronics with the acoustic dynamics of the guitar?

I think that the most important thing for me is what I feel with the music, how it works emotionally. If I can recognize something I like in it,
thereís nothing else. Thatís why I use all this equipment -  because I want to hear this kind of sound.

Most of guitarists like to play with a few pedals, a wah-wah, a distortion pedal, while you use lots of effects.
You change the sound of the guitar in a fundamental way. How does it affect your playing?

I wanted to get away from the way I played, from the repertoire of blues licks and everything that most guitarists do. Using lots of effects was a means t
o escape this. But I think that Iím also influenced by keyboard players, this way of thinking and working on different sounds.

What keyboard player has been most influential on you?

There isnít any one in particular. Itís more a way of thinking, I guess, in arrangements.

If I said ... Brian Eno?

Ah, Yes, Brian Eno! Heís brilliant, I really like him! There are a lot of great keyboard players, but I can say I really like all the pianists that played with Miles
in the Seventies. They influenced me because I still can hear them in my ears, but no particular keyboardist had a great influence on my playing.

What are your jazz highlights?
Well, I think that the first jazz album that gave me right really that was 'Agartha' by Miles Davis from 1975 just before Milesís departure.
That was really good, good music!

In an interview last year, John Scofield was asked who he thought were the emerging talents in jazz guitar. He named two;
the first one was Kurt Rosenwinkel and the second was you. How do you feel about being categorized as a jazz guitarist?
Do you think of yourself as a jazz guitarist?

Itís really nice! [smiles]  Although Iím not really a jazz guitarist because I think many other jazz guitarists can do all the things theyíre supposed to be able to
do, like soloing over bebop, things I canít do. Still I improvise all the time, thatís the basis of what I do: Improvising! Thatís my version of being a jazz guitarist!

Where do you think jazz is going now?
Itís so hard to tell. I think that it is very open now what is going to happen. I see that thereís a very strong jazz scene with a kind of 'nostalgia'.
I hear it very much as being 'acoustic nostalgia'. In Norway - also in Germany - itís like this; itís more and more like this kind of 'nostalgia' trip.
But at the same time, the free jazz scene is much stronger than it was some years ago. I really can only talk about the places I know best in Norway,
but ten years ago free jazz was something that only a few people were interested in; now itís almost the biggest thing! Lot of things going on in free jazz!
So it seems like itís going in very different directions I actually feel equally a part of both of them and of something else.

It could be said that Norway is producing the most interesting music at the moment.
Why do you think is it Norway at this time?
Itís many different things that are sort of connected. I think, we were lucky to have people like Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, and Arild Andersen
who opened up some doors. People were already thinking about different sounds. And then Nils Petter Molvaer, and Bugge Wesseltoft helped
open more doors for a lot of others, people coming from the same environment. And the media has been very positive, focusing on and telling stories
about Norwegian musicians. But I also think that itís something to do with the Norwegian character. We are very individualistic, I think.
So to move forward is something more natural or easier for us than other players.

Tell us more about your collaboration with Bugge Wesseltoft.

Heís the boss in my record company. I owe him a lot because I donít think I would have ever released even one record if he hadnít said:
"Hey you! Come to my record company and make a record!" [laughs]. So I donít have to trust myself to do all this work alone. Heís been very helpful in that.
I also worked for a very short time in his band, 'New Conception of Jazz', but then 'Khmer' was breaking at the same. And so for me it was very hard
to be a player in both bands. I quit. He said something that actually helped me a lot to develop myself. He said "I donít want any guitar solos"
 and he donít get a rid of himself! [laughs]. It helped me to find other ways to work with the things through this thinking, but we never really worked very well.
But unexpectedly, when I asked to play with him, it was so easy to play, so it was much easier to go in that direction.
There was a lot of space for me and things I can do with that.

Thereís a story regarding 'Labyrinter', you did played in Voss 1996.
Nils Petter Molvaer joined you after you were also a band by yourself. How did it work?

They didnít do anything for a while then we played one gig. We played just a couple of gigs. And next year I had the commission in Stavanger at Maijazz
[the project "7" for Maijazz 1997 that ended-up to 'Electronique Noire']. Then I asked Nils Petter Molvaer to join him, and that was the only gig we did with that.
The birth of 'Khmer' was Voss. Because itís the Maijazz project I wanted to do with the 'Khmer'. I think already someone started with the 'Khmer'-band
before I did Maijazz.

What about the project that ended-up to 'Electronique Noire'. How do they commission the project,
how did you plan about doing this project, a 'bestillingsverket', specifically for this festival?

No, I was also doing it. It was very good for me because I was doing this and doing the record at the same time. So then I could think about both.
I recorded the concert on a multi-track and I used some of it for the record. Thatís the track 'Entrance/U-Bahn'. And the funny thing is that it was also the beginning of the concert and in the middle of the guitar solo the power at the house broke down. So weíve just started 'Entrance/U-Bahn' and we have
to leave the stage. The power came back on and we started in the guitar solo, and of course I keep connected to what I did before! [laughs].

When 'Electronique Noire' was released your sound was impressive, really "new".
Who are the guitarists that influenced you most for this record?

David Torn. I heard him for the first time around 1981 or Ď82. Thatís the only time I heard him live. He was playing with Jan Garbarek. But I also bought
his ECM record 'Everyman Band'. That was a really, really great album! Then I followed his solo albums all the way. I still think heís a really great guitar player.

And who were your other guitar influences at that time?
Jeff Beck. And, of course, Terje Rypdal.

On Arild Andersen's 'Electra' on track 12 you play a true Rypdal-style solo!
Yeah. For this solo Arild wanted some really heavy playing. I couldn't find anything else to play [smiles].

He probably remembered the past times along with Jan Garbarek and Terje Rypdal! How was working with Arild?

This project was not originally intended to be recorded. It was only for theatres. So it was like merging, mixing down the record. It was lot of small pieces.
For some of it he just sent me some bass loops and asked, "Can you work something around these?" and I put them together at my place, and then sent
the finished article back, and some of it was done with him live in studio.

What about Jon Hassell?

It was a great honour to collaborate with someone like him. Heís a fantastic player.

What is the difference in working with Jon Hassell and with Nils Petter Molvaer?

It's very different. The music in Nils Petter's band is more free, in a way. And, of course, itís much louder and has lots of energy - although Nils Petter still listens closely to your playing. He's a very different player from Hassell. For me it is much easier to play with Nils Petter, to fit him. But at the same time, I learned a lot
from playing with Hassell, learning a lot resources of the music I'm working in, because he's like a father to a lot of us, also me, the way I'm playing the things.
So it's really nice to take a look inside what's happening.

What about the Aarset/Fresu/Youssef Trio?

We recorded an album, but it needs some overdub work to be finished. We recorded new tracks, and some free stuff. It could be like [???]... but it needs some work, maybe another session in the studio, maybe it's just everything that is able, because we have a lot of live material. Some of this recording is studio,
some is live material.

You played here a year ago with your trio ...

Yes! I tried to do a live recording of that myself but it distorted. That concert was very good, but the Boss distorted so much it made that
concert recording unusable.

Can you give us some new hints about your next album?

I'm working hard because I have a lot to decide. I have some tunes, which are semi-arranged tunes, that I might go for. Or more free stuff.
It depends on what happens during rehearsals.

Have you recorded anything yet?

No... not really. I tend to record things and then something ends on being on the album that wasnít really recorded for that.

Are you planning a solo tour?

Yeah, I actually did a little solo tour, only myself and the computer, back in May. I did four concerts. It was very interesting experience.

How do you feel when youíre totally alone on the stage?
It's not comfortable! [laughs] But it is also a good experience to really be responsible for everything, for being...

...the front-man?
.. yeah - Front-man!! [laughs] I learned a lot from it. New ideas for things to do. What I think is really important is that I don't compete with my own group.
The most important thing for me is to play with the band. So Iíll probably do more concerts with the band than solo concerts.

Have you ever considered doing a project, like Nils Petter Molvaer did in Maijazz 2002, using an orchestral ensemble?

We had the opportunity to do that once. But the orchestra disbanded so it didnít happen. But it could be very interesting to work with material in that way.

Have you got new bestillingsverket for upcoming years?

I already received a bestillingsverket! [laughs] So, if I'll have to do it I'll certainly do. I have a lot of more commissions... let's see.

We talked about an upcoming gig in Rome by Dave Fiuczynski. Do you know him ?
Oh, Dave Fiuczynski! I like him! Don't have any record of him, but I have heard him.

Another guitarist I'm very curious about... NguyŤn LŤ. What do you think about him?
think he's great! I played a duo concert with him in Berchidda (Italy). And that was fun! Two electric guitars, totally improvised. All the equipment came
from the audience, no soundcheck either. That was very interesting. I was not very happy with my own playing, but people seemed to very like it and
Nguyen was a very nice person.

You have a very different approach.

Very different. I think we had much of the same starting points. I mean Miles Davis... when I started to play I started because I listened to Jimi Hendrix.
I think I actually spoke with him about it but I don't think he is from the same point in the same place. But he's a real jazz player!

Which Jimi Hendrix track did you like most?

For me it was a special record, which I got at home when I was a kid, 'Hendrix In The West'. Especially the version of 'Red House' on that album.

What do you think when you're playing music?

When I'm really into it I don't think. I'm just inside the music. I don't think about which tone, which chord, which note: Iím just inside them.
When I decide afterwards for a record that I like, then it has to be something that touches me emotionally in some way. It doesn't have to be sad,
it could whatever. Being perfect or corrected isnít very interesting. It has to be something that touches me emotionally.

Textural guitar is often a way to escape from traditional structures in playing music, even rock or jazz structures - a kind of unconscious musicianship. Do you feel you are constrained by these structures or do you consider yourself to be totally free,
whatever the context?

I think that somehow I always see structures; even though I feel free I'm still thinking in structures. Like what I played today [duo with Arve Henriksen]
had no limits. Then you think, "Okay, this is the way to go" or "It's not this way". Then maybe I want to bring in something lighter on top of this,
or maybe I want to break it off, or maybe something else. There's always structure in some form, but for me it has to be like this. It's not planned structures,
but structures that naturally emerge. It's music. It's like a physical need - it could be unconscious, instinctive. But if you think about music, music it something
that is starting at one point and then moving. You can feel everything you want, but it's working in and through a time-frame. I want to hear development
within this time-frame and I try to make that development happen. This can be conscious or unconscious, but no matter how you look at it, it's structuring.

Do you still study and practice your playing or do you dedicate yourself purely to improvisation?

It's important to work on technique. I need to do what I want to do. When I was younger a lot of people went to school studying music to develop some techniques... but sometimes technique gets in the way because you don't have any idea outside the technique. And that's not very interesting.
But I think it's wonderful when the people with good technique are also players with ideas that can touch you emotionally. I mean artists like Keith Jarrett...

What impresses you most about Jarrett? Solo concerts? His way of improvising?

For me it's an album he did with Jan Garbarek, Belonging, which is maybe one of my all-time favourite albums. I think he is in tune with the flow of his life,
the melody flows so naturally.

Are you attracted by the idea of playing totally solo improvisation? A sort of KŲln concert style...

If I was able to do it, it could be attractive. But I don't know if I can do that. Maybe someday... it's not something I would force myself to do.
It's not really that important for me. The most important thing to me is to make music that sounds good. The rules of the context for making that music
are not as important to me as the quality of the music that is made.

Let's have another look at your collaborations with Nils Petter Molvaer.

This collaboration is probably the most important thing that has happened in my musical life. He has both opened lot of doors in music, internationally,
and has also given me the opportunity to develop my own way of playing in his band. And he has helped me a lot. It's always so easy to play with him.
It's like when he is on stage and he plays, he hears everything that's happening around him. Even though itís really loud and there's the drummer and the dj
playing beats, I can play a chord and he just pricks up his ears and his eyes open wide ... he's an incredible musician! It's always a huge pleasure to play
with him live.

And in the studio?

I get some stuff from Nils Petter, from his computer, and I work on it with guitar, then I send it back to him; so it's not like being in the studio together.
recorded three tunes for the new album ... I think it's a good album!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

You know, I have kids... so I take whatever opportunities I can to play with them. But ... I make food!

Some recipes from Italy?

Mhh. "Osobucu"! [laughs]

Ah! Gli Ossobuchi !   

Grazie e Ciao, Eivind.


Marcello "Geezer" Nardi
Rome, June 2005