In recent years, some of the most exciting Danish jazz has been emanating from pianist, arranger and composer Kathrine Windfeld’s Big Band. She’s been widely praised by critics, both in Denmark and abroad. However, the 32-year-old Windfeld is also generous when it comes to letting others explore the possibilities of her 5-year-old big band – in this case an extremely experienced figure on the Danish jazz scene, saxophonist and composer Thomas Agergaard, who is 23 years Windfeld’s senior.
Clearly, Agergaard’s music for Kathrine Windfeld’s Big Band has been a creative challenge for all involved. The orchestra is used to Windfeld’s meticulously worked out and prepared compositions that. With Agergaard, however, the music is often delivered spontaneously, and some of the compositions were crafted right in the studio, a whole new way for the band to work.
“Thomas writes quite differently than I do,” says Kathrine Winfeld, “with many different references to contemporary classical music, among other things, and he often goes in for the free-tonal approach, sometimes the symphonic. He works more spontaneously and thrives on the energy of the moment. This is beneficial to the music, but is also a challenge when we are so many together and have to make something work within a limited time frame.”
On this occasion Agergaard utilizes smaller units of the big band while also working brilliantly with the entire ensemble. Part of the repertoire consists of renewed preexisting compositions, such as Different Corner and the vehement Hast, while other compositions such as the ballad, Airborne Lotus, was written just before the recording was made.
Thomas Agergaard displays his high caliber as all-around soloist on alto sax and flute. At the same time, he makes room for other soloists and quirky ideas, such as having the band’s guitarist spontaneously play the mandolin during a number for the first time. All of these are elements that have strengthened Kathrine Windfeld’s Big Band. As she says herself: “It’s been exciting for the band, and not least of all for myself, to have a different kind of repertoire.”