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JAGA JAZZIST

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Norway


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Jaga Jazzist picture
Jaga Jazzist biography
Founded in Tønsberg, Norway in 1994 - Still active as of 2015

In 1994 a couple of kids from Norway all around the age of 14 decided to make an album combining their wide range of influences, but the main one being jazz and electronic music, they made in 1996 their first album "Grete Stitz". It wasn't that much of a ruckus, but they where slowly on their way to perfecting their own sound.

It was in 2001 with their album, "A Livingroom Hush" , that the 10 piece instrumental band named Jaga Jazzist finally was in the spotlight. It was also when they became known all around the world with their unique sound and toured out of their own country for the first time witch gave them a lot of recognition from all over the world as well as the raving reviews they got from the album. In 2002 "A Livingroom Hush" was dubbed jazz album of the year.

In 2003 they released their follow up, "The Stix", witch saw the band experimenting more with their electronic side without the help of remixers. It also showed the band in a more rock direction than the previous one.

After all of the touring for The Stix was over, they went again into the studio to start recording their latest album, "What We Must", but after that they went and recorded the demo "Spydenberg Sessions" in witch their signature sound came evident; combining genres, artists and bands from all over the map that by reading their list of influences you wont believe it could be possible. After the band made a tour in the US and Canada showing their new material, they went on to record their latest album "What We Must". This album showed their post-rock influences more clearly than their previous two albums.

Jaga Jazzist is a strange band in it sense of mixing all their influences to make their own sound. They have jazz, electronica, progressive rock, shoegazer, psychedelic, hip-hop, alternative rock, experimental artists, post-rock and more all under their own umbrella of sound. Curious to know what they would sound like? See for yourself.

: : : Chamberry : : :

See also:
- Shining

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JAGA JAZZIST discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JAGA JAZZIST top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.93 | 14 ratings
Jævla Jazzist Grete Stitz
1996
3.96 | 71 ratings
A Livingroom Hush
2001
3.65 | 45 ratings
The Stix
2002
3.76 | 62 ratings
What We Must
2005
3.75 | 121 ratings
One-Armed Bandit
2010
3.67 | 44 ratings
Starfire
2015
3.70 | 22 ratings
Pyramid
2020

JAGA JAZZIST Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.74 | 18 ratings
Live with Britten Sinfonia
2013
4.82 | 2 ratings
The Tower
2021

JAGA JAZZIST Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.75 | 4 ratings
Live at Cosmopolite
2009

JAGA JAZZIST Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
'94 - '14
2014

JAGA JAZZIST Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.93 | 10 ratings
Magazine EP
1998
4.00 | 1 ratings
Airborne
2000
3.00 | 1 ratings
Airborne / Going Down EP
2001
5.00 | 1 ratings
Going Down
2001
2.96 | 5 ratings
Day
2002
2.26 | 4 ratings
Animal Chin EP
2003
3.00 | 1 ratings
"What We Must" 4 Radio Edits
2005
0.00 | 0 ratings
One-Armed Bandit (Radio Edit)
2009
3.67 | 3 ratings
Bananfluer Overalt
2010
4.00 | 2 ratings
Oban
2015
4.00 | 1 ratings
Prokrastinopel
2017
0.00 | 0 ratings
Spiral Era (Prins Thomas remix)
2020
0.00 | 0 ratings
Tomita
2020

JAGA JAZZIST Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Pyramid by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.70 | 22 ratings

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Pyramid
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Lewian
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I cherish the previous three albums of the Jaga Jazzist a lot. In fact, "What We Must" for me is one of the best albums of the 2000s. I like the powerful big arrangements, and how all the musicians come together in one big stream that however still leaves room for some subtleties, majestic rather than heavy; also their melodies have a capacity to stay in my mind for long, and to take me with them.

Pyramid is maybe their most relaxed album (at least of the later ones). There are still eight musicians listed for this one, but over large parts of the album we hear say 3-5 at a time, so somewhat more space is left for escaping the stream of things, which also takes more time to kick in during the four pretty long and slowly developing instrumental tracks. It seems they wanted to integrate some post rock elements in here; there are also some electronic elements (particularly in Apex with its sequenced synthesizer rhythm that at time sounds a bit like the 2019 Battles album I just reviewed yesterday). Some of the best moments come when a sparse rhythmic beginning is re-interpreted and changed in a surprising yet logical manner when new instruments come in, for example in the build up of Spiral Era and The Shrine.

However, the typical Jaga Jazzist elements like the breezy nordic woodwind and brass melodies are still there. Arrangements are leaner than before but still the musicality works well putting together very organic and natural sounding music. So I can well imagine both Jaga Jazzist fans and people with a melodic post rock or also somewhat jazz influenced background enjoying this, and actually I do, too. It is indeed very nice and relaxing music. This one issue I have with this is that the amount of ideas and variation isn't much for 39 minutes of music. It's a good album from beginning to end, still I somehow feel that they might have put only 30-50% of the energy and work into this than into their previous efforts, with some of the best parts harking back to their earlier albums, for which reason I will only give this 3.2 stars. Anyway its nature may appeal to some and may even make it an entry point to the great Jaga Jazzist if you come from the right direction.

 The Tower by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Live, 2021
4.82 | 2 ratings

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The Tower
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by rik wilson

5 stars This is an incredible live jazz fusion experience.From the opening salvo of, "Tomita"" in which the band evokes musical bliss for 15:i4 and conjures the great thread left in the past by Weather Report, Silent Way Miles Davis, and Return To Forever The music is atmospheric and finely honed. Throughout the set the band is propelled by the insistant rhythms and punctuation of their drummer Martin Horntveth .This 41:47 set sails along effortlessly, like a fusion symphony. The only thing you discover is this set is way too short. I want more. You can't believe it is over . This band continues to improve by leaps and bounds. They have reached a new plateau with "Starfire" and "Pyramid" this momentum continues as they reach the top of Mt. Everest . You just can't get any higher. This is a must for any jazz fusion fan.
 One-Armed Bandit by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.75 | 121 ratings

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One-Armed Bandit
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. My favourite of the three I own by this Norwegian band. I also have "What We Must" from 2005 and "Starfire" from 2015. Like Bonnek touches on in his review sometimes you just can't get into a band. Nothing wrong with that. And I've also given them a fair shot. A nine piece band with too many instruments to list. And we get as other reviewers have explained better than me a lot of percussion sounds including vibes and marimba. But they use programming and a drum machine(plus real drums) a variety of synths. And I'm just not into a lot of these sounds and sometimes the style of music itself.

It's not until we get to "Toccata" that I feel I get a consistent track that's also unique sounding as a bonus. Such a determined sound, an intense rhythm section. "Prognissekongen" is like a nod to KING CRIMSON's "Discipline" album. Pretty cool and a top three with the next track "Book Of Glass" which doesn't begin well for me but the rest is impressive all the way to the dark and experimental ending. I have to mention the distorted bass sounds on the closer hence the title "Touch Of Evil" I'm guessing is coming from a keyboard of some sort. Nasty stuff and a good way to end it all. Just wish the first half was better.

Most love this band and while I seem to be into most Norwegian bands this one is a miss based only on my taste in music.

 Pyramid by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.70 | 22 ratings

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Pyramid
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The Norwegian NuJazz leaders are back with another album displaying the progression of their sound. The same rhythm patterns as used in 2015's excellent Starfire are this time enhanced by new, fresh sounds from both electronica as well as electronically treated voices and instruments.

1. "Tomita" (13:46) breathy, plaintive saxophone, electric piano, background synthesizer--this sounds like something from either Harold Budd's first collaboration with Brian Eno, Pavillion of Dreams, or one of WEATHER REPORT's classic 1970s albums. Eno/Ryuichi Sakamoto-like programmed percussion and synth horns enter in the fourth minute, eventually receding behind the emerging drum kit, electric bass, and electric guitar play of a lounge jazz combo. Soft, breathy horns and delicate electric guitar play continue into the seventh minute as a jazzy melody is built and embellished. Then, early in the eighth minute, all rhythm instruments cease while horns and guitars continue--kind of recreating the introductory soundscape--until 8:25 when the rhythmists return and the song reconnects with the melodic weave from earlier. All this is interrupted with a quite radical detour in the tenth minute to what sounds like a bridge but then becomes more like the drummer and bass player have gotten stuck in short time loop. Eventually they break the loop and emerge onto a landscape of colorful and joyous sunlight as multiple synths, guitars, and voices celebrate the alien sunset arrival, the end of the world, and the peaceful transition of all life forms to their simplified energetic sources. Nice. Very engaging main weave. (26.5/30)

2. "Spiral Era" (8:08) the rhythms are the same, purely Jaga Jazzist, but the melodies and spacey textures are different, catchy. (13.25/15)

3. "The Shrine" (9:06) opening with some gently, spaciously woven horns, drums and breathy bass instruments join in (I'm reminded of Markus Pajakkala's 2017 release, Brutiopianisti), gradually moving into a moderately-paced whole-band fabric. At the end of the fourth minute "large" horn section begins adding it's EARTH WIND AND FIRE- like wall of melodies and accents. Despite a few brief dream-like interludes between horn-dominated sections, this is the bulk of the song. Never thought I'd dis a JJ song, but this one does nothing for me. (15.5/20)

4. "Apex" (8:08) marginally outside the realm of disco, there is a very retro-1980s DEPECHE MODE/1970s DONNA SUMMER sound palette to this one. Too bad it lacks any interesting or even moderate development. (A key change in the third minute! The dropping out of all non-rhythm track instruments around the five-minute and seven- minute marks! A synthesizer solo in the bass end during the sixth minute! Some increased filler in the treble clef during the seventh minute!). (13/15)

Total Time 39:08

The music corresponding to the titles seem mismatched to me. I hear very little Tomita in the opening song. I hear very little Nigerian melody or rhythms in the supposed tribute to Fela Kuti, "The Shrine," and I get very little of a "symphony" feel from the overall feel and flow of the album.

B/four stars; a nice addition to any prog lover's music collection, though, in my opinion, not up to the standards of previous JJ releases.

 Starfire by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.67 | 44 ratings

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Starfire
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Starfire by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.67 | 44 ratings

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Starfire
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

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!

 The Stix by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.65 | 45 ratings

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The Stix
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars ''A livingroom hush'' and its innovative style became an instant favorite among music fans and the album sold rapidly over 15,000 copies in Norway alone.It won also the Norwegian music award Alarm Prize in 2002 and the same year it was crowned as ''Jazz Album of the Year'' by BBC listeners.Jaga Jazzist then signed a deal with the Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound, following the deal with a huge number of live shows, which were mostly succesful.They draw the interest of Ninja Tune, who came in a deal with Smalltown Supersound to have the rights to release the band's next album.As a result, ''The stix'' was originally released in 2002 on Smalltown Supersound and the following year vinyl and CD editions were released by Ninja Tune.Ivar Johansen and Jorgen Munkeby had been replaced by Andreas Schei (keyboards) and Ketil Einarsen (flute, keyboards, percussion).

Second album by Jaga Jazzist appears to follow a similar path as their debut with lots of Jazz and Electronic elements, although a bit more restrained.The problem is that the tracks are sounding pretty similar, combining jazzy improvisations with modern drum programming and Trip Hop beats, while there are also a fair amount of Avant Garde and Chamber Music traces via the piano and synthesizer lines.''The stix'' lacks the rather more diverse sound of Jaga Jazzist's debut, but the music remains refreshing, clean and charming.You get the feeling that many of its moments were parts of a Soundtrack, having an intense cinematic flavor, and the executions are pretty cool with abstract jams, laid-back ambiences and dominant Electronic showering.Lots of saxes and vibraphone strengthen the jazzy flavor of the album, which is mainly built around wind instruments, music effects and keyboards, offering contemporary instrumentals.The mass of delicate melodies of ''A livingroom hush'' are rather absent with the band choosing a more difficult and complex path in this album, which still contains some pretty adventurous and well-performed music.

A little dissapointment compared to the band's monumental debut.Still ''The stix'' is a fine combination of Jazz, Electronic and Chamber Music with an intense instrumental background, which will please fans of original, contemporary-styled music.Recommended.

 Live with Britten Sinfonia by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Live, 2013
4.74 | 18 ratings

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Live with Britten Sinfonia
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Argonaught

5 stars I have listened for the 'Live With Britten Sinfonia' album by Jaga Jazzist only once, but I had known a couple of their songs, featured on this album, from their previous efforts.

What can I say - this is one of the most satisfying albums I have laid my hands on in the past few years. There is one very important (albeit subjective) test that this album passes cum laude: being stimulating without being irritating. Takes a lot of subtlety and refined taste to achieve this. It's like carrying something very fragile and precious in your hand: squeeze it a little harder than absolutely necessary to maintain the grip, and you crush it; loosen your hand just a little more than you should, and it drops and shatters into pieces.

I am especially impressed by the way Jaga Jazzist have evolved

Jaga Jazzist are enlisted here as a jazz-rock fusion band. I think the 'Live With Britten Sinfonia' has shown, once again, that they are quite capable of, and interested in playing any kind of serious music. I'd classify this album as modern classic to avoid splitting hair as to whether the 'Live With Britten Sinfonia' is symphonic, progressive, experimental, eclectic jazz or whatever. Shall I call them the Super Fusion of Everything band of the 21 Century?

Five stars without reservation.

 One-Armed Bandit by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.75 | 121 ratings

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One-Armed Bandit
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by LinusW
Special Collaborator Italian Prog Specialist

3 stars Balancing on the line between smooth, suave and elegant on one side and a bit tepid, glossy and sweetly melodious on the other, you should be able to infer that this is no roller-coaster ride of an album.

Don't be fooled though! This is a busily arranged and musically refined and proficient slice of music. Working on a basis of rather groovy, modern fusion mixed up with a fair bit of electronica and more atmospheric/soundtrack-like (almost post-rock-ish) sensibilities, it makes for quite a pleasing mix of genres and sounds, but I feel the fusion always comes out on top (even at times when the electronica goes as far down as the rhythm department). At the same time it manages to be relentlessly poppy, with myriads of sunny, happy-go-lucky melodies and harmonies popping up to the left and right.

There is an airy, almost fluffy, freshness to the compositions, regardless of a fuzzy, buzzing, mischievous richness that lurks beneath the shinier melodic surface. It sounds neat, clean, warm and playful. This is in part due to the compositions themselves, often strangely (but rather charmingly) naïve and child-like. Perhaps ripped out of a kids' TV show or a friendly, flowery video game with a slight penchant for the absurd or surreal? The presence and particular use of clarinet, vibraphone, tuba, trumpet and saxophone on One-Armed Bandit enhance this feeling further.

Now and then things move into slightly darker territories, but as everything is relative it is the darkness of a nice, white cloud blocking the sun on an otherwise perfect summer's day. It is hard to find friction. And I need it, something that weighs the album down and connects me to the joyride. It teases with slight abrasiveness in the keyboards, a touch of ominous brass instrument majesty or a build up of colder and clearer free-form progressive structures, lures you in with a set of awkward atonal or glitch'y effects and a sudden eruption of earnest and fiery fusion rhythm and a tenser melody, but all too soon falls back into the meticulous and pleasurable lull of before. Charming, soothing, refined, admirable. But at times I find myself thinking: this is speed lounge. And it is a bit sad, because I rather like and admire what is going on here. It is just a bit too polite, quaint and bloodless in spite of the warm, vibrant richness.

Easy to like, impossible to love.

3 stars.

//LinusW

 One-Armed Bandit by JAGA JAZZIST album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.75 | 121 ratings

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One-Armed Bandit
Jaga Jazzist Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TechnicallySpeaking

4 stars I decided to review something a little different tonight. One of my favorite subgenres of progressive rock is fusion jazz. Launched into existence by the likes of Larry Coryell, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock in the 60s, the genre evolved and integrated into the progressive scene in the 70s with bands such as Dixie Dregs, 10 Years After, Return to Forever and then in the 80s with bands like Shadowfax.

Of course, Magma was and remains a signature Progressive Fusion Jazz group that I had the pleasure to see live at NEARfest a few years back. Recently I discovered a band that continues this eclectic subgenre into the current decade with a fresh twist . Jaga Jazzist is a band from Norway that has released several albums since 1996. The one that I am reviewing is the most recent "One Arm Bandit" 2010. I recently watched some great video concert footage from a prior release "What we Must" that I plan to review soon as well. Anyway this is an awesome addition to my Fusion Jazz collection. Now for a track by track breakdown:

1. The Thing Introduces... (0:23) ? Opening ambiance, cymbals and perhaps a gong?

2. One-Armed Bandit (7:08) ? This song is very upbeat, and moving; almost danceable. It has the air of a live show. Then it changes into a complex electronica reminiscent of a video game sound track. Then it goes back to the upbeat rolling jazzy track that started the song. It has a great blend of live sounding acoustic instrumentation integrated with electronica. Of course the sound effects at the very end give the name of the song away as you hear the coins roll out of the machine.

3. Bananfluer overalt (6:17) - It begins with a short drum track reminiscent of Hawaii Five O, but then gets very jazzy, with off-beat odd time signatures. As the song moves on, symphonic keys join (strings and voices), along with nicely played guitar leads. The music is sufficiently complex but not overly crowded. There are parts that are beautiful in its simplicity. There are major changes throughout this song in instrumentation and composition, but a strong thread of a common theme that continues throughout.

4. 220 V / Spektral (7:03) ? This opens with a nicely done piano melody and bass with an effect that I could not quite identify. The song then picks up in intensity, with heavy drums, space-rock synth effects, bells, and some other sounds that I have not quite placed. This song has the signature "back beat" that I like in modern progressive jazz. About half way through, this song gets a little repetitive, and I started to lose interest. The song could have been 2 minutes shorter and been a better track.

5. Toccata. (9:11) ? This starts with a rather repetitive but catchy organ track with other instrumentation following along. Trombones and Tuba join the party. Then we get an explosion of nice fat and warm drumming. The drums are complex in the beat, but could have been pulled off on a four piece set for all I know. There is a little synth thrown in for texture, but for the most part this is an instrumental track featuring wind instruments. The dynamic creativity in the horns will keep your attention.

6. Prognissekongen (4:34) ? This is one big track. It starts with a jazzy but bombastic syncopated drumming with vibes. They explore many different musical modes in this track. The talent of the drummer is evident by signature jazz solos that are featured throughout. The" bigger than life" background of the song is augmented with discordant piano and synth that reaches a climax of pure chaos before folding back into upbeat sound that started the song. This track just flies by and is probably my favorite on the record.

7. Book of Glass (6:49) ? This song is not very organized at first. It almost seems a little out of place after the perfect composition of the previous track; however after a few minutes it starts to pick up steam, and continues the excellence from Prognissekongen. The technical aspects of this song are incredible. There are several things going on here from a fast pace drumming, to a continuous synth droning, to a quick guitar melody and lead keyboard that is incredible. I almost consider this a part of the prior track as it seem to resolve what was not previously expressed.

8. Music! Dance! Drama! (5:32) ? This track opens with a strong off -beat drumming and space rock background. The trumpet and trombone take the lead. There are some classic symphonic elements with instruments playing in full synchronization and others playing in completely different time signatures but fully complimenting the main timing. There is a lot of music buried in this track which takes a couple of listens to find.

9. Touch of Evil (6:40) ? This could be a movie track; a spy movie, perhaps the opening to the next James Bond, however it is not corny. It transitions into a steady down-to-earth beat with an ever changing bass line and keyboards providing the mood. The transition from a symphonic movie track to progressive jazz is seamless. It is constantly changing with a very modern feel. There is an electric guitar synchronized with a saxophone at one point that produces a unique sound. As it built towards the end of the track, an unexpected but complimentary pipe organ joins the party. It ends just as it begun with a helicopter sample.

I am happy that I was introduced to this band. Technically speaking it is one of my current favorites.

Thanks to Jimbo for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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