The Artists - Thomas Agergaard

Thomas Agergaard – Danish tenor sax, soprano sax and flute player, composer and band leader, born June 23 1962 – performed with a specially assembled international octet at the JAZZPAR 2002 Event and with Prize Winner Andrew Hill's JAZZPAR 2003 Nonet.

From an early age Thomas was determined to be a jazz musician. At his cousin’s house he listened to – “Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster”, Roy Haynes’ “Out of the Afternoon”, Weather Report, Brazilian music and Frank Zap-pas’s “The Grand Wazoo” – records that made an enormous impression on him.
   “We all need teachers; but in art, you must free yourself from them, dare to lose self-control ... you must throw yourself at life and let chaos rule for a while”, Agergaard says in a interview (Jazz Special First Int Ed). “You have to be able to abandon yourself to – and be in – one note”, as the self-taught musician phrase it. Agergaard, almost seven feet tall, is a giant radiating authoritative calmness.
   He loves playing and composing for dancers, and in 1995 he created a project with live music to live boxing. He has played birthdays and weddings and been a replacement at dance jobs where Klezmer was played. For Agergaard dance music is as important as listening-music. As far as classical music goes, Agergaard is fond of Bach and Bartok, whereas Mozart makes him agitated and impatient. For shorter periods Agergaard has gorged himself on Ligeti, Stravinsky, Alban Berg and Charles Ives, and Ravel’s La Valse has been of great importance.
   The octet is a familiar format for Agergaard. His group “Ok Nok ... Kongo” features bouncy, post bop-ish themes and killer walking bass lines that emphasize the hard-edged meter and clever horn arrangements. Some tunes have a hybrid African-Latin beat, others have a horn section speaking authoritatively over a heavy funk-rock beat. They don’t hesitate taking off into “swing” territory with nods to free jazz, or making textural arrangements on upbeat, odd-metered funk. Most arrangements are multi-layered and captivating. The confidence and originality is profound.
   Agergaard’s musical language may be characterized as slightly atonal employing strange lines, complex, far out chromatics, flattened ninths and so on. His way of using disharmony and tonal collisions can be very beautiful. He may also use ugliness as a contrast – like wildness or pure energy.
   So, Agergaard can easily capture a mood, and a sound that fits, and he is willing to do a lot to help the audience follow him on the trip. For Agergaard the question is not to think about the music but to be in the music. “The Art of Being”, as one his CDs is called. When he plays or composes complicated structures out of a simple melody it’s also a consequence of a spiritual dimension in his music. The results are profoundly rewarding!

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