Pierre Dorge Presents : New Jungle Orchestra

Pierre Dørge è una figuria ormai entrata nella storia della scena jazzistica danese. Innamoratesi del jazz moderno quasi fin dall'inizio della sua carriera, nel 1960, nel corso degli anni ha anche mostrato curiosità per altre culture musicali che hanno influito nella propria musicalita' incorporando elementi europei, asiatici, africani e tradizioni musicali afro-americane che sono stati assemblati da questo geniale chitarrista danese in una sintesi originale. Ad accompagnarlo in questo cd e nel concerto che il 13 Marzo si terra' al Manzoni di Milano in occasione dell'Aperitivo in concerto ci sara' la New Jungle Orchestra, nata nel 1980. Prende il nome dal leggendario approccio "giungla" della Duke Ellington Orchestra negli anni Trenta e di cui alcune composizioni vengono ricreate con sprito dadaista e con intelligente capacità di riadattamento e di idiomaticità. Le influenze di Carla Bley, Charlie Mingus e Gil Evans sono facilmente avvertibili nelle pagine della New Jungle Orchestra, e vengono rielaborate attraverso sofisticati arrangiamenti e il contributo di alcuni eccellenti solisti. Un cd e un concerto unici per gli amanti di questo genere.

Pierre Dørge and New Jungle Orchestra are celebrating a generation of international music- making. That longevity, allied with their perennial freshness of sound, places them right up there with great enduring bands of the past - Basie, Herman, Kenton, Ellington. Ensembles that reinvigourated themselves over the decades, while remaining true to their original purpose. The comparison between Dørge’s N.J.O. and the Ellington orchestra is pertinent since Duke was and is a constant inspiration to Pierre. And both men provided most of the material for their aggregations, always
composing with specific soloists in mind.

Thirty years, three decades, is a wide wedge of a lifetime for any group of creative artists to stay together. To remain as a unit for so long, the stimulation and demands of the repertoire have to be exceptional. And every member must feel satisfied that he/she is making a full contribution to the evolution and development
of the whole. A player who feels marginalised will soon seek opportunities elsewhere. A vital core of four musicians have been with the N.J.O. from the start. Of course there were personnel changes along the way, so that now the ensemble is truly multi-generational. But there is an ongoing stable foundation that can accommodate an occasional infusion of new voices. The present line-up is virtually unchanged since Pierre returned to the SteepleChase fold in 2007 with the orchestra’s brilliant CD “Jazz Is Like A Banana” (SCCD

While the NJO’s continued existence is now assured, it was not always so. The first 13 years were a struggle. Often a gig would pay quartet wages to a group of ten. In those circumstances it was love of the music that sustained the ensemble. As Pierre observes, the turning point came in 1993 when the orchestra was chosen as a state ensemble, representing Denmark on royal visits at home and around the world. For instance when Danish royalty went to South Africa at the invitation of Nelson Mandela, the N.J.O. was there too.

Suddenly Pierre and his colleagues were in terrific demand, playing 80 concerts a year, and a growing audience was attracted to the band’s unique blend of jazz, folk and classical elements merged into a vibrantly exciting, international whole. “I never set out to be a bandleader,” says Pierre. “I was interested in composing and arranging and I obviously wanted to hear my music performed. But then I found out you had to negotiate fees, make travel arrangements and deal with a whole lot of administrative stuff. In the first year none of us talked about money, but finance has to be a factor if musicians are turning down other jobs to play with you.”

Then there were the social and musical problems that inevitably arise in every band.
“One guy doesn’t want to play Ellington tunes, another wants to play only Ellington material. Someone else demands that we should concentrate on free jazz. So, as a leader, you have to try to keep everyone happy. My philosophy was that we should use all the best elements from the many different styles of music, combining them in our own way". “When writing, I have tried to employ the most powerful side of each musician’s character, and to set them a challenge. I also try to put myself in the place of the audience and think about what would be interesting and pleasing to their ear. When we have added new players, it has provided fresh inspiration, stimulating different ideas and possibilities which are reflected in the writing. It is important to stay open-minded in music.”

The N.J.O. made its debut at the Music Cafe, Copenhagen, on 24 September, 1980, so in September 2010 that 30-year milestone was being marked by a week’s celebratory tour of Denmark, and release of this outstanding anniversary CD, the orchestra’s 22nd recording. The band was due to play a number of these pieces during their September progress. For this collection, Pierre decided to structure each composition to focus on a particular member of the orchestra. “I spoke to each musician and asked if they had any special preferences or wishes about which side of their style they would like me to portray. They approved of the idea and I
received very positive feedback". “My concept was to create 10 pieces of music, as 10 abstract pictures, each of them as an image of an individual, creative, New
Jungle musician. They responded with their special wishes for the individual piece.

I knew that the music would not shine unless the composition inspired and challenged each individual’s creativity. I can write the music, ut it is the musician who is the true creator of the spontaneous expression in the music - the here and now.”