When Tingo’s Benjamin Gower-Poole (a terribly English name, one might say) wrote to me asking if I’d write about their album ‘Kvartetten fra verdens ende’ (‘The quartet from the end of the world’) he said “I know jazz isn’t what you write mostly about but you should give us a listen as we are distinctly Nordic.”
It’s true that jazz doesn’t feature here too often. I still find it a rather arcane and formless medium while I prefer beginnings, middles and ends, and certainty, but I’m learning all ze time and courtesy of having seen a couple of excellent (Norwegian, as it happens) jazz and jazz/rock bands live in recent months it’s something I’m starting to get to grips with.
The real question is; what is ‘distinctly Nordic’? I’ve discovered that in the mainstream pop and R&B world Nordic usually equates with ‘sad’ and melancholy’. In the heavy rock sector Nordic often means death metal.
Tingo does things a little differently. They say, “Tingo is an acoustic Jazz/Folk quintet (hm, someone must have gone missing and their images only have four of them!) digging through the depths of Nordic folk music treasures, and combining them with jazz improvisation.”
It’s “a new Nordic tendency, with a jazz vibe we bring new life to old folk melodies and revitalise tradition…a graceful game of mixing the genres, with tender care for the northern melodies.” Original compositions by the band members stand side-by-side with existing folk-tunes.
‘Bjergpas’ (‘Mountain pass’) is the first of five songs on the album (technically an EP I suppose) and has previously been released as a single. Extensive research, dear readers, has failed to discover if this is a new (band) song or an old folk one but it may be the latter on account of a distinctive folk-sounding melody that occupies the first 90 seconds; underwritten by the thumping steam engine that is Benjamin’s double bass.
Thereafter, we’re off into the stratosphere of what I understand to be free jazz (I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong), in a time signature that could be 33/19 for all I know, but then that melody unexpectedly returns in what you’d assume to be a short bridge, but it plays the tune out, another unanticipated turn of events.
And that is what fascinates me about jazz in this format even if I don’t get it. You just never know where it’s going.
As Jazz Club’s Louis Balfour would say, ‘Nice.’
I always try to compare any new band with a well known name and I had GoGo Penguin in mind straight away but they are mainly piano driven of course while Tingo employ brass and woodwind (and I reckon all of trumpet, cornet and sax are in use on this track). But it’s always nice to be mentioned in the same company, isn’t it?!
So think Go-Go Penguin wrapped in a Danish pastry.
Tingo’s debut album ‘Kvartetten fra verdens ende’ was released on Sunday 16th April 2023.
Because Spotify sometimes links only a preview within a post and the You Tube version has a pretty picture of a bridge over a stream, here it is.
Tim Ewé Bjerre / Trumpet and Cornet
Cecilie Strange / Tenor Saxophone
Benjamin Gower-Poole / Double Bass
Per Rask Ringsted/ Drums and Percussion
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