It was Day 1 of Jazzmandu: Jazz for the Next Generation. 3 local groups participated for a chance to play in Jazzmandu 2011. This was the first time that I was introduced to Neighbourhood, a six piece band from Stockholm formed by trombonist Kristian Persson in 2009. The auditorium could not have been more crammed. And I couldn’t have been more anxious to hear them perform. From the beginning, the energy in their music was clearly unmistakable. Their sound was strong, complete and well backed. It was astoundingly memorable to all those who saw them perform.
[quote_right]Jens Filipsson ‘ Saxophones amp; Flute
Jonne BentlÃ¶v ‘ Trumpet
Edvin Nahlin ‘ Keyboards
Aleks Brdarski ‘ Bass
gren – Drums
Having been inspired by a range of sources, their music itself is unique and cannot be bound to a specific genre. Elements of jazz, funk, soul, Ramp;B shine in their original instrumentals primarily composed by Kristian. The horn section distinctly sets Neighbourhood apart from other jazz outfits; the arrangements of their tunes, especially the ballads reflect genuine harmony. Kristian (on trombone), Jonne (on trumpet) and Jens (on sax) complement each other perfectly. And if the horns weren’t enough of a treat for the ears, Aleks’ solid grooves locked in with Sebastian’s exceptional drumming takes you far. Sebastian makes it look easy and his solos always have clear motifs. Edvin’s comps are superb and his selection of adding colour made their sound novel each time around.
They showed great technique and musicality and their solos were well thought out and well executed. Kristian’s accuracy was more than impressive; his phrasing mind boggling and the control with which he played was phenomenal. Jonne stood out with his be-bop influenced sound as he shared in the Masterclass. Jens always stole the show with the occasional high accents and Edvin quietly smiled away while making his solos the icing above the cake. Aleks held everyone’s breath with his long and emotive phrasing; after every phrase you could go ‘wow!’ and hold your breath for another long pharse. Sebastian commanded his solos with mature dynamic precision and while he made it look easy, I’m sure it wasn’t. Their distinctive on-stage communication and support is thoroughly entertaining especially when any single instrument is soloing.
Neighbourhood is truly an inspiring act. Though forming only a couple of years back, they released their debut ‘Maybe Tomorrow‘ in 2010 and have received sparkling reviews not receding 4 stars. With such fantastic originals with such arrangements, you have to give them credit for being as innovative as they are. I personally would like to thank Kristian for making this possible; coming to Kathmandu and inspiring all of us who got a chance to watching Neighbourhood. Their album is available on Itunes and they also have a few videos on Youtube for you to check out! Or check out: myspace.com/jointheneighbourhood , where you can find their songs, pictures and tour dates.
Q. How did you hear about Jazzmandu? What made decide that you wanted to come to Nepal?
‘I just happened to find it on the internet. I liked the concept of music for peace and compassion and the idea of going to Nepal was really tempting as well.’ – Kristian Persson
Q. How was your experience in Nepal? Could you highlight some of the high points of this visit, hopefully individually?
‘Nepal seems to be a great country which is rich in nature and life. Kathmandu for me was really humbling. All the people we’ve met have been really friendly and easygoing. Our stay and gig up in Gorkana was really amazing. That together with the show in Pathan were we played with classical musicians was a true inspiration. The whole week was a highlight but if I had to single out a few it would be those two events.’ – Aleks Brdarski
‘Nepal was the trip and tour of my life, no doubt! From the moment we arrived at the Kathmandu Airport you immediately felt there was a very special and relaxed vibe in the air, something that I think affected all of us in a positive way. Everyone of us felt very welcome everywhere we went, the Nepali people are truly very friendly and welcoming. Every day was a highlight for me. I experienced so many wonderful and different things compared to my ordinary life in Sweden and I am grateful for every minute I got to spend in this amazing country!’ -Jens Filipsson
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Q. Kristian, I believe you are just 23. Considering your age, as a composer what advice would you give to young aspiring composers who want to perform their own compositions, but believe age is a ‘limiting’ factor?
‘One of the nice things about music is that its not limited to age. You can communicate with anyone regardless of age as long as you yourself have an open mind. And for me that´s one of the most important things when your´re working with music. When I was around 12 years old I was playing in a local big band, with guys that where in their sixties and even older than that! So for me age is just a number.’ – Kristian Persson
Q. How would you describe the scene (jazz, soul and funk) in Sweden?
‘It’s really flourishing right now with lots of young bands coming up with new fresh ideas and concepts. The new generation of jazz-musicians also seem not afraid to be influenced by genres like pop and electronica to name a few and collaborations with electronic artists is getting more common, which we like!’ – Jonne BentlÃ¶v
Q. How important do you think is proper formal and/or informal training when it comes to performance?
‘It´s depending on what music you are performing. Some music need it more then others but in our case I think its a mix of both. Its also depending on who you are and what suits you.’ – Kristian Persson
Q. Could you comment on some of the problems you’ve encountered in the past couple of years since the formation of this outfit?
‘Luckily, we all are very good friends in this band, which makes it pretty easy to tour and work together. Of course there has been times of arguments and different opinions regarding the music or other things concerning the band, but we have always been able to communicate and listen to each other, making it possible to find solutions that everyone feel comfortable with. Regarding the music scene today, and the jazz scene in particular, money is always an issue. You really have to work hard to be able to get out on tour and play your music. For us though, this just makes us wanna work even harder We believe in what we do and will always work hard for the opportunity to reach out to new listeners and spread our music around the world.’ – Jens Filipsson
Q. Your debut album has been compared to likes of E.S.T back home, with respect to their appeal to various audiences of varied genres. Could you comment on this a bit?
‘We feel very honored to be compared with such an amazing group who has really put Sweden on the global musical map. They have pushed the limits of what you thought a jazz-trio was suppose to sound like and never got stuck in any pre-determined genre. We hope that we share some of that same spirit in our music!’ – Jonne BentlÃ¶v
Q. What is the secret of your band’s synergy and effective communication? Is it all practice or something else?
‘I think it’s a combination of everything. I think that it’s first and foremost about communication. We always try to communicate when we play together. If we don’t communicate, we don’t play together. However, we have all practiced individually on communication and playing together and locking in with other musicians. With that said I really bealive that we have something unique in our group. I mean we’re all good friends, but when we play together we just reach a new level. It’s really inspiring and that makes us all want to strive for something new everytime we play.’ – Aleks Brdarski
Q. What kind of emotion(s) does your music hope to express?
‘The emotions of daily life and it´s up and downs. Some of the songs express love and hapiness, some others express sorrow and sadness, some of them express anger and frustration. But whats common for all of them is the collective energy you can achieve if you work together. Working this way we always end up having a real good time together and that´s what we want to share with the audience.’ – Kristian Persson
Q. Any future plans and comments on Neighborhood and the music that you seek to explore and have already explored?
‘Our plan is to continue to do the things we do and to grow and improve as musicians and a band. We´re developing all the time and we´re finding new things to discover and explore more and deeper. Besides playing live we´re also working a lot in the studio, so we have new music coming up soon. We´re really excited about the new material so be on the lookout for our upcoming album!’ – Kristian Persson
Thank you and namaste for sharing with us with such wonderful music and giving us such memorable experiences. We hope ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ will be a great success. And we hope to see you again in the future and will be looking forward to it.