Music: Jaga Jazzist

Live at Molde International Jazz Festival, 2009.

"I think you can hear with many Norwegian acts that they're from Norway, especially in the jazz scene, that they have some kind of melodic, Nordic thing going on. With Jaga I try to steer away from it, but I grew up with ECM Records and all that stuff so it's in our system. And here in Norway it's really hard to get on the radio without being really nostalgic. Everything has to be kind of depressing to be popular."
Lars Hornthveth, in an interview with The Quietus

Jaga Jazzist is a band from Norway whose style defies categorization beyond the vague label of Nujazz. They began as a mix of big-band jazz and trip-hop (on Grete Stitz), then they added drum-n-bass and other electronic influences (on A Livingroom Hush and The Stix). Then they added Post-Rock (on What We Must), then prog- and math-rock (on One-Armed Bandit).

  • Jævla Jazzist Grete Stitz (1996; exclusive to Norway)
  • Magazine (1998 in Norway; 2004 internationally)
  • A Livingroom Hush (2001 in Norway; 2002 internationally)
    • Airborne / Going Down EP (2001 in Norway)
  • The Stix (2002 in Norway; 2003 internationally)
    • Days 12" vinyl (2002, exclusive to Norway)
    • Day EP (2003; rereleased in 2004 with additional live tracks)
    • Animal Chin EP (2003)
    • In the Fishtank 10 (2003) A collaboration between "Jaga Jazzist Horns" (Lars Horntveth, Mathias Eick, and Jørgen Munkeby) and Motorpsycho.
  • What We Must (2005)
  • One-Armed Bandit (2010)
    • Bananfleur Overalt EP (2010)
  • Live with Britten Sinfonia (2013)
    • '94 — '14 (2014) A deluxe vinyl reissue of A Livingroom Hush.
  • Starfire (2015)
    • "Oban" single (2015)

  • Lars Horntveth: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, Bb clarinet, flute, guitar, piano, Mellotron, Roland SH-2 keyboards, programming, lap steel guitar, bass guitar, glockenspiel, tamboura, e-bow banjo, piano, programming, vocals
  • Line Horntveth: tuba, flute, euphonium, melodica, percussion, glockenspiel, vocals
  • Martin Horntveth: drums, synth-drums, drum machines, programming, keyboards, Typatune, bulbul tarang, marxophone, mandolin harp, spike piano, psaltery, bells, tubular bells, temple blocks, other percussion
  • Andreas Mjøs: guitar, percussion, glockenspiel, marimba, vibraphone, drums, Korg MS10, omnichord, other keyboards and synthesizers, crotales, percussion
  • Even Ormestad (since 1995): bass guitar, bass synthesizer, percussion, glockenspiel, keyboards
  • Mathias Eick (since 1998): trumpet, french horn, keyboards, upright bass, salina strings, vocals
  • Erik Johannessen (since 2005): trombone, marxophone, percussion, vocals
  • Øystein Moen (since 2008): synthesizers, piano, organ, percussion, programming
  • Marcus Forsgren (since 2009): guitar, synthesizer, programming, effects, vocals

  • Harald Frøland (1994–2007): guitar, synths, effects
  • Ivar Christian Johansen (1994–2001): trumpet, Fender Rhodes, Hammond-102, piano, vocals
  • Jonas Bendiksen (1994–1997): keyboards
  • Lars Wabø (1994–2005): trombone, euphonium
  • Mads Jansen (1994): trombone
  • Marius Hesby (1994): trombone
  • Thomas Viken (1994) tenor saxophone
  • Lars Erik Myran (1994): bass
  • Jørgen Munkeby (1995–2002): flute, alto flute, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, harmonica, glockenspiel, keyboards
  • Håvard Myklebust (1996): trombone
  • Torgeir Audunson (1996–1997): trumpet
  • Bjørn Strand (1997): tenor saxophone, alto saxophone
  • Sjur Miljeteig (1997): trumpet
  • Morten Qvenild (2001): synthesizer, piano, cassette tape-recorder
  • Ketil Einarsen (2002–2005): flute, alto flute, toy saxophone, wind controller keyboards, percussion
  • Andreas Hessen Schei (2002–2007): synthesizers, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, piano, Mellotron, vocals
  • Nils Martin Larsen (2005): keyboards
  • Anders Hana (2005): guitar, effects
  • Stian Westerhus (2008–2009): electric guitar, baritone guitar, 12-string guitar, harp, effects, percussion

Provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: The protagonist of the "Airborne" video opens a celebratory bottle of champagne, completely unaware that a gunman is taking aim at him. The cork flies off the bottle and hits the gunman.
  • ASCII Art: For the Norwegian release of The Stix, the back cover has the album credits formatted in the shape of a mountain range.
  • Animated Music Video: "Animal Chin", "Day", and "Two Things".
  • Band of Relatives: Martin, Lars, and Line are siblings—and nearly the only members who've been with the band since the beginning.
  • Changed for the Video: The video for "All I Know Is Tonight" edits all the Subdued Sections from the middle of the track. The album version of the song runs 7:51, while the video version is just 3:35.
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: Both the Norwegian and international releases of The Stix have the same songs, but the track order is very different.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: A few early songs ("Jazzthing" and "Yo! It's Christmas" from Grete Stitz, and "Seems to Me" from Magazine) feature singing with actual lyrics. Subsequent albums have no lyrics at all—the only singing is scatting.
  • Epic Rocking: Many.
    • Their longest studio song is "Big City Music" (14 minutes) and their longest official live recording is "One-Armed Bandit" from Live with Britten Sinfonia (15 minutes).
    • Their longest track is "Out of Reach (or Switched Off)" (28 minutes, but see Leave the Camera Running, below).
    • All five of the songs on Starfire. The shortest is 6:35, and the longest is 14:07.
  • Excited Show Title!: "Music! Dance! Drama!"
  • Face on the Cover: What We Must has a pencil portrait of one band member, and the interior pages of the liner notes have similar portraits of the rest of the band. And Starfire has inverted-color photos of everyone's heads floating in the night sky, with gold lights in place of their eyes.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Nearly every track on A Livingroom Hush.
  • Flying Car: Used in the "Animal Chin" music video.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Jævla Jazzist Grete Stitz is a parody of this—their debut album is a retrospective of their (non-existent) prior career.
  • Hidden Track: The original version of Magazine had an unlisted song at the end of "Serefin I Jungelen". On the 2004 rerelease, the song is no longer hidden at all, but listed on the back cover.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The song portion of "Out of Reach (or Switched Off)" is about six minutes long. It's followed by 22 minutes of what sounds like a TV show host discussing the album.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: '94 — '14, released to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary, is basically an extravagant vinyl reissue of A Livingroom Hush, with a bunch of remixes and new cover art.
  • Man in White / Woman in White: The "Day" music video has the entire band wearing identical white suits. The suits begin glowing when the band gains the power of flight.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
  • Order Versus Chaos: The "Day" music video, at least according to the director:
    An industrious group of Jazzists maintains the universal equilibrium by means of knobs and levers. As harmony seems secured their chaotic counterparts get going.
  • Performance Video: "All I Know Is Tonight" has the band playing in a cabin in the middle of a dark forest, while a bunch of taxidermied animals watch them.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: "Day" and "Another Day", which fade together, and "Another Day" ends by reprising "Day"'s main motif. In fact, at live shows JJ tends to play the songs back-to-back, with no break in between—anyone not already familiar with the studio version would think they were a single song.
  • Scatting: "Swedenborgske Rom" features an a cappella, lyricless interlude. "All I Know Is Tonight" has lyricless singing in unison with the epic horn riff.
  • Song Style Shift: On Starfire, JJ take advantage of the extended compositions to switch at the drop of a hat from ambient electronic music to psychedelic rock, to clubby electronic music, to jazz horns over programmed beats, and back again. The press release for the album quoted the band: "The idea was that we thought about the songs as both the original song and a remix in one."
  • Stop Motion: Both the "Animal Chin" and "Day" music videos involve animated cutouts from photographs and magazines (although "Day" also used some vector graphics).
  • Surreal Music Video: "Animal Chin" is so odd that the characters themselves get weirded-out by the proceedings and promptly leave.
  • Tap on the Head: In the "Airborne" music video, the assassin is incapacitated by a popped champagne cork.