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Jaga Jazzist

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Jaga Jazzist Starfire album cover
3.67 | 46 ratings | 2 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2015

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Starfire (8:47)
2. Big City Music (14:07)
3. Shinkansen (7:42)
4. Oban (12:41)
5. Prungen (6:35)

Total Time 49:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Marcus Forsgren / electric guitar, synthesizers, programming, vocals
- Lars Horntveth / guitars, lap steel guitar, clarinets, saxophones, flute, synthesizers, bass, programming, piano, vocals
- Even Ormestad / bass, bass synthesizer
- Line Horntveth / tuba, flute, glockenspiel, euphonium, vocals
- Erik Johannessen / trombone, vocals
- Martin Horntveth / drums, typatune, tubular bells, percussion, programming
- Øystein Moen / synthesizers, programming, piano, Hammond organ
- Andreas Mjøs / vibraphone, guitar, synthesizers

Additional sounds:
- Jørgen Træen / Korg MS-20, additional programming
- Ole Henrik "Ohm" Moe / violin (2)
- Kari Rønnekleiv / violin (2)
- Frode Larsen / violin (4)
- Øyvind Fossheim / violin (4)
- Stig Ove Ose / viola (4)
- Audun André Sandvik / cello (4)
- Ola Kvernberg / violin (5)
- Leon Dewan / Swarmatron (3)
- Susanne Sundfør / handclaps (1)
- Erlend Mokkelbost / handclaps (1)

Releases information

CD Ninja Tune ZENCD223 (2015 UK)
LP Ninja Tune ZEN223 (2015 UK)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy JAGA JAZZIST Starfire Music

JAGA JAZZIST Starfire ratings distribution

(46 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (15%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JAGA JAZZIST Starfire reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What an incredible breath of fresh air! I am so glad to be reminded by an album like this of how much I love upbeat, happy-go-lucky groove tunes like these. From the first notes of the opening song, Starfire, I was gushing with a big grin across my face. After finishing my first listen I went back to listen through an "old" favorite of mine that I'd almost forgotten, 2010's One-armed Bandit.

I love the band's self-written tome on their history on their Facebook page:

Jaga Jazzist is:

(a) A jazz band; (b) A rock band; (c) A progressive rock band; (d) A hip hop group; (e) A rap group; (f) A reggae group; (g) A polka band; (h) A comedy band; (i) An electronica group; (j) A classical ensemble; (k) A choral ensemble; (l) All of the above; (m) None of the above.

with the answer being (l) and (m). Obviously a gang who are out to have fun, pure and simple. But talented, too! As a matter of fact, I'm beginning to think that the entire population of Norway must be made up of really interesting, fun-loving, laid-back, happy-go-lucky people! I need to get there! Anyway. Back to Starfire. (Can't believe I just missed JJ's North American tour!) The entire album plays out like some incredible soundtrack music, starting with the opening song, 1. "Starfire" (8:47), which sounds like the opening song from a light-hearted French murder mystery (yes: there is such a thing) from the 1970s. Nice syncopated rhythm making at a rather pleasant cruising speed with great guitar and tuned percussion work. There's even a cool MOTORPSYCHO sound & feel during the fifth and sixth minutes with the rising scale of musical progression. Then the odd synth melody/riffs take over for a while before the song mellows down for a brief bit with vibes before weaving all of the song's themes together for the final minute of awesomeness. (9/10)

2. "Big City Music" (14:07) opens by introducing us to its KLAUS SCHULZE-like electronica foundation--which sounds awesome--before the other keyboard and drums take over the establishment of the songs foundation. Sounds like LARRY FAST playing with BILLY COBHAM. At 2:46 the music breaks down to allow some hand drums and odd computer incidentals which establish a kind of odd rhythm before strummed guitar joins in. Then Martin Horntveth reenters with his jazz drumming for a bit before the song breaks down again to allow individual instruments to help fill a rather spacey, spacious soundscape--very OZRIC TENTACLES-like. A BLADE RUNNER-like moment at 6:30 opens the next section of the song as multiple melody lines are woven together for a minute. Another shift at 7:30 as vocals are used to mirror a new keyboard melody line--we are now into PAT METHENY GROUP territory, big time! A minute later everything shifts again, back to the opening electronica with some funky synth fuzz bass play, which is then joined by pizzicato strings play, again forming a weave of differently syncopated melodies into one fascinating tapestry of sound. The full band seems to come into play with a return to a PAT METHENY style of pulsing rhythm and sophistication. (9/10)

3. "Shinkansen" (7:43) is probably my favorite song on the album for the laid back groove set up and maintained throughout the song by the strumming acoustic guitars as well as due to the prominence of the flutes and myriad "windy" synth sounds. Just a gorgeous, breezy, Nature-celebrating song all around. (Shinkansen is, by the way, the word for Japan's network of high speed trains. How appropriate!) (10/10)

4. "Oban" (12:42) is also quite Asian/Japanese (think: "Ryuichi Sakamoto") sounding in its melodic and rhythmic approach--though the work of KRAFTWERK, GARY NUMAN, and PETER SCHILLING also comes to mind. Eventually, in the second half of the song, the sounds and stylings turn to sound more like early DEPECHE MODE--though the drumming always remains quite exceptionally a notch above any of the above mentioned. Mellow sax in the fourth minute is beautifully offset and accompanied by multiple other rhythm instruments and horns. Then a little slow down of delicate horns in the fifth minute makes way for an awesome display of electronica (OZRICS again) before the original ensemble return with the full weave of music. Another song that could work awesomely as a soundtrack. I personally would love to see this made into a video. In the tenth minute the DEPECHE MODE-like synth bass line is gorgeously offset by harp and strings melodies. Just an awesome song with so much to listen to! Every time I hear it I discover so much more than I had previously heard! Gorgeous little outro, too. (10/10)

5. "Prungen" (6:35) shows the band taking on some Arabian-like musical sounds and stylings. The song does, however, continue the amazing string of made-for-movies music that they have going here. The Arabian melodies become even stronger with wooden flute in the second minute and strings in the third. Sax in the third doubles up with the flute and then electric guitar takes up a variation of the theme while layer of layer fills the background tapestry. An Arabian "violin" joins in the melody making in the fourth minute until a scratchy saw-like horn synth takes over with a ROBERT FRIPP-like dissonant melody line. This dominates the song despite the rejoinder of the rest of the band and the addition of a horn section, until 5:45 when everybody falls into line, working with the original melody line. Great song though the use of that one "Arabian" melody line makes it a little less exciting as the previous songs. (8/10)

This is an awesome album of great mood pieces--all deserving of film soundtrack contracts. I'm not yet willing to give it full masterpiece status though I think it is, it's just a little at the edge of what I consider progressive rock music--which is really a good thing. It's like The Amazing or Five-Storey Ensemble: incredible music but perhaps not true progressive ROCK music. We'll see.

BUT: Check out the album! You will LOVE it!

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. I'm not sure why I can't get into this band. I have "What We Must" which was okay and I do feel that "Starfire" is a step up from that one, and I have yet to listen to "One-Armed Bandit" which I have and I'm hopeful that will be the one that clicks with me. I have enjoyed this all-instrumental album but I find the electronics to be too much despite also feeling this is fairly innovative. The other thing about this recording that sort of leaves me scratching my head is that while there is an abundance of instruments used on here it all seems to mesh together to the point that I was surprised at certain instruments were even used. This is a different beast for sure.

The thing that really got my attention with the opener "Starfire" was the tone of the synths before 1 1/2 minutes which immediately brought early PORCUPINE TREE to mind, not a bad thing at all. Lots of electronics, flute and synths but I like the calm before 7 1/2 minutes with the vibes. "Big City Music" is my least favourite and the longest track at over 14 minutes. It's still a good song though. I like the electronics that sound like rain to start, it then kicks in after a minute. Kind of a OZRIC TENTACLES vibe that comes and goes on this one as Drew mentions in his review. A calm before 3 minutes with those liquid sounding synths as strummed guitar joins in. An 80's vibe 5 minutes in with those synths that pulse. It turns brighter 8 minutes in then after 10 1/2 minutes we get some crazy synths. That brighter mood returns before 13 minutes to the end.

"Shinkansen" opens with some atmosphere as strummed guitar joins in. Keys around 1 1/2 minutes then flute which reminds me of 70's Fusion. This is good. The flute and a horn will trade off for a while and it's quite catchy before 6 minutes before the flute returns. "Oban" opens with drums with deep synths and electronics. Some 80's sounding synths join in after a minute. It settles down around 4 1/2 minutes then kicks back in before 6 minutes. There's those 80's sounding synths again before 10 1/2 minutes. I like the bass and horns early on in the next track called "Prungen". Sounds like a drum machine but probably isn't and we get plenty of synths. Lots of electronics after 4 minutes.

This did well in PA's annual Album Of The Year results so read BrufordFreak's(Drew) review for a more favourable slant on the music here, plus he's able to distinguish the sounds better than me.

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