Predetermined plans can be inhibitory in improvised music - interview with Lotte Anker

Piotr Wojdat
Autor zdjęcia: 
Peter Gannushkin

This year I’ve made an interview with Artur Majewski. He talked about session for your album “Diversity”. Do you remember when and how do you met Artur and Rafal Mazur for the first time?

Lotte Anker: I met Artur and Rafal at Brda Contemporary Music Festival in Slovenia. It was in 2015 and the festival took place in the beautiful village Smartno. I was invited to play a solo concert and duo with Zlatko Kaucic. Artur and Rafal were playing duo concert and also had a recording session with Zlatko in the Church of Sant Martin in Smartno. So they invited me
to join the session and we also played as a quartet in the evening concert.

How was this session?

LA: I remember it as being very nice and easy to create music together. We had to deal with the long reverberation in the church which put some restrictions on the music. Our approach was to play with the acoustics and so even though it was a challenge, it also became a guideline and inspiration for the music which was completely improvised.

Is it a good idea to have a plans in improvised music? If I’m not wrong this session for “Diversity” is an example of spontaneous meeting that wasn’t in plans.

LA: You’re right: there were no predetermined plans either in the session or the concert. Having predetermined plans or concepts can be fine. It depends on the musicians and situation and of course what kind of music, you want to create. For me predetermined plans can be somehow inhibitory in free improvised music- especially in smaller groups.
The session in Smartno was a first time meeting for us (although maybe Artur, Rafal and Zlatko had maybe played as a trio before). I really like first time meetings to be without plans. It’s a situation where you go on a journey of discovery in unknown land. This has for me a very special quality of freshness, exploration and intensified listening. In other
situations - for example in more established groups, it can certainly make a lot of sense working with concepts, certain framework ao. So for me both approaches are meaningful, it depends on the music.

This year you have released an album with Torben Snekkestad and Evan Parker for polish label Fundacja Sluchaj!. How did it happen?

LA: Evan was featured at a two-day festival in Copenhagen in 2016. As one of the festival constellations he suggested a saxophone trio with Torben and me. We played a concert - also in a former church - and that became the album Inference. For this concert there were also no predetermined structures or concepts. Here too the acoustics (long reverb
although not as long as in Smartno) had a big impact on the music.

How is to work with Evan Parker and Torben Snekkestad?

It’s a true pleasure playing with both! I have worked with both Evan and Torben in other constellations but this trio formation was new. Evan is a saxophonist, I have been listening to a lot through many years. Torben is a great musician as well, whom I have known since many years.

Is the danish jazz and improvised music scene growing?

The improvised and experimental music scene in Copenhagen has been growing quite much in the last 10 years. There are many more younger musicians active on that scene and also a bigger audience plus more venues for experimental/improvised music. Many of the younger musicians are students or former students from RMC (Rhytmic Music
Conservatory). There are also many foreign students (including many great students from Poland), who are bringing a lot of engagement and energy into the scene: as musicians, audiences, concert organizers. This is very refreshing for the Copenhagen and Danish scene.

What are your plans for the near future?

I just started an artistic research project through RMC and The Danish Arts Foundation. It’s about composing for larger ensemble of improvisers. So I’ll be composing and writing for our first ensemble session in february. The ensemble consists of musicians from Berlin, Sweden and Norway.
I’ll also use January to do some editing and mixing on a couple of recordings, which I think should be released: a trio recording with Magda Mayas and Fred Frith and an older one with Johannes Bauer, John Edwards and Paul Lovens. And then I have gigs in Switzerland and the Winter Jazzfestival i Copenhagen. The latter will include two duo gigs with Steve Swell and Christof Kurzmann plus a concert with the research ensemble.