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Jaga Jazzist

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Jaga Jazzist What We Must album cover
3.78 | 66 ratings | 6 reviews | 24% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. All I Know Is Tonight (7:40)
2. Stardust Hotel (6:28)
3. For All You Happy People (3:58)
4. Oslo Skyline (5:31)
5. Swedenborgske Rom (8:46)
6. Mikado (5:57)
7. I Have a Ghost, Now What? (7:32)

Total Time 45:52

Limited Edition (2005) Disc 2: Spydeberg Sessions (22:43)
1. Mikado (Spydeberg demo) (4:17)
2. All I Know Is Tonight (Piethopraxis rough rough mix) (6:24)
3. Stardust Hotel (demo) (4:57)
4. Swedenborgske Rom (Spydeberg demo) (7:05)

Line-up / Musicians

- Andreas Mjøs / guitar, vibraphone, Omnichord, marimba, percussion, glockenspiel
- Andreas Hessen Schei / Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Mellotron, synthesizer, piano, vocals
- Even Ormestad / bass, Sh-101, baritone guitar, piano, marimba
- Harald Frøland / guitar, Fx
- Ketil Vestrum Einarsen / flute, alto flute, toy saxophone, wind controller
- Lars Horntveth / guitar, lap steel guitar, soprano saxophone, Bp & bass clarinet, Mellotron, keyboards, glockenspiel, tamboura, vocals
- Lars Wabø / trombone, euphonium
- Line Horntveth / tuba, percussion, vocals
- Martin Horntveth / drums, percussion, gong, vocals
- Mathias Eick / trumpet, upright bass, vibraphone, keyboards, Solina strings, vocals

- Kåre Chr. Vestrheim / keyboards, theremin, percussion

Releases information

CD Ninja Tune, Smalltown Supersound ZENCD 103, STS 091 CD (2005 UK)
CD Smalltown Supersound STS 093 CD (2005 Norway)
CD Beat Records BRC-117 (2005 Japan)
2CD Ninja Tune ZENCD 103 X (2005 UK) (limited edition)
CD Ninja Tune ZENCD 103 P (2005 UK) (promo)
2CD Ninja Tune ZENCD9103 (2005 UK) (limited edition)
LP Ninja Tune ZEN103 (2005 UK)
CD Sound Improvement si59cd (2011 Poland)

Thanks to chamberry for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
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JAGA JAZZIST What We Must ratings distribution

(66 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(52%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JAGA JAZZIST What We Must reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by chamberry
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Jaga Jazzist has somewhat matured over the years. Their debut albums was very hectic, playful, diverse and innovative (at least for me) with their combination of electronica and jazz rock with several other influences thrown in the mix. In "What We Must" we see them a taking a slower, more chilled out approach to their music and now they've added another influence to the mix, post-rock.

The differences can be clearly seen even in the opener song, "All I know Is Tonight", with its rather lazy (in a good way) horns and restrained sound. The change in atmosphere is also quite evident in this release. While the feel of their debut was sunny, playful like summer days, this one sounds more like walking around late at night in cold weather. The change in atmosphere still won't change that Jaga Jazzist sound that fans already know and like. "Oslo Skyline" has to be my favorite song on the album. Aside from being the most "post-rock" song on the album, the feel of the hole song and the intensity of the horns in the climax at the end makes this one of my top favorite songs of 2005. The rest of the songs never reach the intensity of "Oslo Skyline" and they tend to be more airy and lightweight. And those two previous adjectives are perfect describing the heavenly "Swedenborgske Rom" in which they replace their horns for their own vocals in the beginning of the song, a very passive and delicate atmospheres in the middle and in the end a very heartfelt playing by these wonderful guys.

What We Must is the more melodic and emotional album from Jaga Jazzist. It may be caffeine free, but it's still a wonderful album and they're still true to their sound (whatever that may be). I'll recommend this album to fans of post-rock since the delicate and electronic atmosphere this album has will appeal these fans more than any other.

Review by JLocke
4 stars O my God! Here I thought I would just kill a little bit of time by trying these guys out, and ended up being mezmerised! What amazing music! I haven't heard this kind of originality in Jazz-Rock since Bela Fleck. What really strikes me about this album is that the music is very psychedelic, yet undeniably Jazz. I think the modern take on Jazz-Rock these days has bifrucated into many different opinions on what 'Nu-Jazz' should be. All I can say is that Jaga Jazzist seems to have come the closest to the 'definitive' modern-day Jazz-Rock Fusion music, at least in my opinion. Everything we expect from good prog is there; the funky, odd meters, the songs that explore completely new territory, the epics, the sound effects, the ability to evoke emotion from the listener.

This is a much more guitar-heavy album than I thought it would be, but it also has alot of keyboard work in there that makes WHAT WE MUST much more than just another Jazz record.It is clearly progressive. The way the saxophone seems to have that dreamy, etherial majesty to it on the track 'Stardust Hotel', and the manner in which the drums seem to take control of the other instruments in a march against genre cliche is truly inspiring. The flute work on 'For All You Happy People' is particularly tasty, and very cool and groovy, very much in the fashion of some of the best Jazz ballads in history. No vocals, except for the harmonies featured here and there, but this band doesn't really need 'em. The quality is there in the musicianship itself; a singer would only clutter up an otherwise beautifuly balanced listening experience. My favorite song on the track is the forementioned 'For All You Happy People', because not only does the flute playing bring a tear to one's eye, the acoustic guitar playing features later in the track's span truly finds its way deep into my heart and pulls at the strings relentlessly. A truly beautiful tune.

By the time I came upon the track 'Oslo Skyline' it was clear to me that this band (this album, at least) was very different from alot of other Jazz artists, in that the rock aspects of the tunes are so prominent that the music leans more toward a Post-Rock direction more than a few times. Is this a bad thing? Not at all, but that may mean that if someone is wanting a truly all-Jazz sound to the actual instrumentation, they may want to look elsewhere. This is truly Jazz in that it's between the notes and unexpected, but the spontaneity may come at a price for some. Personally, I think it's some of the most brilliant work in the genre. This is only one man's opinion, however, so other Jazz-Rock/Fusion fans should give this album a try. I am certainly glad that I did, and it will undoubtedly lead me towards the rest of the band's repetoire, which I hear is much more traditional in sound. Will I enjoy those albums as much as I have loved this effort? Well, we will have to wait and see.

As of this writing, I am thoroughly impressed by Jaga Jazzist, and think they are pioneers in the Jazz- Rock sub-genre. They are the Steely Dan of their time, pushing the envelope and producing truly magical music as a result of their fearless and experimental attitudes. So, with enough traditional Jazz elements to intrigue the Miles fans yet plenty of modern progressive twists to keep listeners like myself happy, WHAT WE MUST is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of all-time.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars What We Must is a swirling smorgasbord of beat driven semi-ambience that draws on a wide variety of styles both past and futuristic. As one might expect from a European nu jazz band there are a lot of hazy orchestrations that recall loungey sophisticated jazz such as Herbie Hancock's late 60s small orchestral ensembles, Gil Evans and Don Ellis, as well as jazzy exotic lounge artists such as Les Baxter, Henry Mancini and Tartaglia. This record's use of wordless vocals definitely recalls the heyday of exotic background music in the late 60s. The big surprise on this record though is the post-rock influence and how well the jangly guitars and driving beats mix with the faux 60s lounge jazz sound. It is pointless to talk about individual tracks here, all the songs blend together to make one beautifully orchestrated post rock tone poem.

There are other influences at work as well, almost too many to account for. Some of the repeating wordless vocal phrases sound like Philip Glass, and some of the woodwind passages recall early Soft Machine and Frank Zappa. Other tunes almost head into an abstract Detroit influenced ambient techno tip with wonderful percolating analog synthesizers and abstract beats. Some of the members of Jaga also work with ultra dramatic instrumental prog-rock meisters Shining, and it shows when some of the songs build up into heavy prog like choruses. The last influence that hits me is the vast history of film soundtrack music from the 60s till today.

If at least two of the influences mentioned above appeal to you than I would highly recommend this huge soundscape of a record that could have used just a few more memorable melodies to be a true progressive rock masterpiece.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars JAGA JAZZIST are a very interesting young 10 piece band from Norway who put a modern twist on their jazzy brand music. Kind of cool to hear those Post-Rock influences come out at times too.

"All I Know Is Tonight" is by far my favourite track on here. It's the only song that makes me smile everytime I hear it. It kicks in fairly quickly. Horns after a minute.It settles right down after 2 minutes before kicking back in a minute later with piano. Contrasts continue. Love the horns in this track. "Stardust Hotel" also kicks into gear fairly quickly after a mellow intro. Contrasts contine as well until we get a staedy full sound 2 minutes in. Horns slowly pulse in and out 4 minutes in. Kicks back in to end it. "For All You Happy People" is laid back for the most part. I like the second half of the song a lot more. It begins with acoustic guitar after 2 minutes. Drums 3 minutes in with bass.

"Oslo Skyline" opens with vibes, drums, bass and guitar which are prominant early. It settles with flute 1 1/2 minutes in. Again the second half of the song is much better as we get a nice heavy sound before 3 minutes including a Post-Rock flavour. "Swedenborgske Rom" is my second favourite song. It has some atmosphere early until it changes before 2 minutes and vocal melodies take over. A melody with some atmosphere 3 minutes in. It's building late until we get a Post-Rock wall of sound. Great track ! "Mikado" has a good beat with lots of tempo shifts. "I Have A Ghost, Now What?" opens with horns and some interesting sounds. A beat 2 1/2 minutes in. Vibes a minute later. The last minute of the song is a little experimental.

Good album, but this isn't consistantly good in my opinion. A breath of fresh air though.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I re-listened this Jaga Jazzist album once again after I just received my fresh "One- Armed Bandit" version. It's often good to see some earlier works from the distance of time.

So, even if during all their career band's music is placed somewhere in jazzatronics field, there is not possible to find two very similar albums. If "A Livingroom Hush", the one released before "What We Must ", was based on drumming and rhythms, with more energetic ,and sometimes even acoustic sound, the album I'm reviewing now is much more polished and electronically arranged.

Excellent melodies are very professionally recorded and mixed in one beautiful (if not too polished) musical piece. For sure, one of strongest influences on this album is post-rock, so the correct name of this music possibly is nu.jazz/post rock amalgam. And vintage nostalgic/romantic old movies soundtrack music is important component on some compositions as well. Wordless chorals are another component, and even if all this list of ingredients sounds a bit chaotically on paper, in band's music all them are melted tastefully and very organically.

Beautiful music, but I just missed there some energy, or adventure spirit there. Too comfortable?

Returning back to my review's beginning, I just want to mention their next work - you can see this competent, beautiful and comfortable sound's evolution there.

P.S. I strongly recommend to purchase Limited Edition with 4 original songs remixes added. Same songs there have all very different sound whenever post-rock arrangements are removed. Full-body sound with great drums and horns!

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After overusing the drum machines and other effects on The Stix, Jaga Jazzist did another 180 degree turn with their 2005-release What We Must where they almost completely abandoned the style and went into a regular band direction. Incidentally, this was also my introduction to the band that did manage to leave quite enough impression on me to make me want to pursue the rest of their discography. Unfortunately time hasn't been all that kind to this release and listening to it today doesn't bring me as much joy since I now know what this band is actually capable of!

What We Must shows a complete departure from the already well-established sound that made Jaga Jazzist famous with the critics that hailed them to be one of the most innovative new jazz acts out there. This release has very little jazz or electronic music, instead it has now been exchanged for almost post-rock sounding direction with few distinct melodies and much more atmospheric feel. This isn't necessary a bad thing per se, but I know so many other great bands that excel in this genre by focusing on the razor sharp atmospheric flow of their work. That's not really the case here since Jaga Jazzist is still trying to retain some of their former glory while pushing things into a new direction. Generally, that's not a wise decision since pure and simple music tends to work better than excessive over-layering of sounds and textures. What I'm basically saying here is that this music sounds overdone.

After being very impressed by this album previously, now I can't even find one exceptionally good composition to highlight the few moments that actually work. Instead I have to resort to pointing out a few instances like the first parts of Stardust Hotel, Mikado and the last 2/3 of I Have A Ghost, Now What? as some of this releases highpoints. This is quite unfortunate since there is definitely at least half a good album in here if you put together bits and pieces out of every composition.

***** star songs: I Have a Ghost, Now What? (7:35)

**** star songs: All I Know is Tonight (7:51) Stardust Hotel (6:15) Swedenborgske Rom (8:47) Mikado (6:05)

*** star songs: For All You Happy People (3:58) Oslo Skyline (5:32)

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