Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Conversation--Norwegian Trumpeter Mathias Eick

Norwegian Brass: Conversation with Mathias Eick

While I was hosting a community radio show, Global Heartthrob, I came across Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Mathias Eick. This occurred around the time when my consciousness towards trumpeters was growing. I had been listening to Miles Davis, Terence Blanchard and other players. ECM Records and Kirgelig Kulturverksted had both sent me recordings featuring Eick's clear tones. Since I received several recordings around the same time with Eick's contributions, I told myself that at some point I would interview the musician. And actually, had I kept hosting my radio show, he would have been a featured artist.

Similar to Blanchard's work, especially on A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina), Eick also pulls colors from an emotional palette. But these emotions feel more like mood changes or perhaps light changes over the course of a day. The musician has in a short time, 29 years, has developed quite an emotional repertoire which can definitely be heard on his 2008 solo recording, The Door, on ECM Records. The opening and titler track in itself contains much of this repertoire. Stavanger feels a bit edgier, with dissonance and then the musicians launch of into the lyrical Cologne Blues.

This lyrical quality should come as no surprise to listeners though. Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett have been cited as influences, as has Norwegian guitarist, Jacob Young in which Eick appeared on two of Jacob's ECM recordings. And while I mostly know Eick as a trumpeter, he plays several instruments including vibraphone, piano, bass and guitar. In fact, on the fourth track of the renowned Norwegian vocalist, Sondre Bratland's tribute album to celebrated Norwegian poet, Olav H. Hauge, you can hear Eick on vibraphone performing Latin jazz, nonetheless.

WME: I could not find anything on your musical background so when did you start playing music, what was your first instrument and who did you study with?

Mathias Eick: My first instrument was the piano. I started playing piano at 3 years of age, and then proceeded to trumpet at age 6. I started studying with a private teacher on the classical piano at 5 years of age and studying with a trumpet teacher at age 6.

WME: I noticed that you perform other musical genres besides jazz and you have also recorded with diverse performers from Norwegian folk singer Sondre Bratland to jazz ensembles and rock bands. Jacob Young’s Sideways combines elements of acoustic folk and jazz. This reminds me of Scandinavian jazz which provides some traditional Nordic folk elements. What comments do you have about your performance and contribution to Jacob Young’s recordings? (I have only heard Sideways).

ME: You should also check out the album Evening Falls by Jacob Young. He is from Norway, and he's the reason I got in touch with ECM records. I think his music is wonderful, and it was a great honour for me to contribute to his albums. He's been studying in New York, so his music has a funny combination of Nordic influences and American standards.
WME: On Sideways you play alongside reedman Vidar Johansen, drummer Jon Christenson, double bassist Mats Eilertsen and guitarist Jacob Young—the playing is seamless. Do you want to comment on that recording and working with that ensemble of musicians? Did the recording sessions include a lot of improvisations and how much freedom did you have as a contributing musician?

ME: Jacob had written all the heads (melodies), of the music, and in all the songs there were parts where we improvised. It's great and pretty easy music to improvise, because it's very lyrical.

WME: You join up with pianist Jon Balke, bass/guitar player Audun Erlien and drummer Audeun Kleive on your solo jazz album, The Door. Again, I hear a rich palette to your trumpet playing and this time you are playing your own compositions. How big of a role do emotions play when you compose and when you record with other musicians? You seem to have a deep well which you draw.

ME: Emotions play a big role in my life and my music. All the songs on my album The Door are made in different places around the world. Maybe that caused the songs to have certain characteristics that seperated them a little, from each other. Some of them were composed in bed in the morning or in the evening, some during the day, some when I had been alone with a piano.

WME: Since my blog is about the healing effects of music, have you had any experiences healing yourself through music? And have others mentioned that they find your music healing for them?

ME: I've heard people say my music has had a positive effect and caused them feel like they were taken to another place; another state of mind. Someone once told me that listening to my music was like being tucked in a blanket.

WME: Final question, if you could assemble a band from musicians past and present, who would you ask to join this band? (Some of these musicians might have already passed on).

ME: I'd love to play with Keith Jarret´s European quartet from the 70s : Palle Danielsson, Jon Christensen, Keith Jarret, Jan Garbarek.

Some of Mathias Eick's work can be found at and

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