Danish composer Line Kruse sets the bar high in big band music with an ambitious new project for her fourth album Hidden Stone.
It takes a certain amount of courage to tackle the delicate art of big band today. And it's all the more daring when the music is violin-led and relies on the tortuous beat of latino polyrhythms.
In Hidden Stone, the violin blends in with the brass and rythm sections, or even on solo passages, to bring a new energy to the balance between the orchestra's different sounds. " I've always wanted to place the acoustics of the violin, which is both strong and delicate, in opposition to the rich sound of a big band," says Kruse.
As the creator of the multifaceted Hidden Stone album, the violinist continues to develop her skills as an arranger which began with her first three albums. Keen to play with sounds and ideas, she adds into the big band mix traditional instruments and rhythms. "Mixing cultures together is very important for me, and here I wanted to enter into the very heart of the compositions by using rhythms like the Afro-Peruvian festejo or the Argentinian zamba or instruments like the bombo which is rarely used in jazz," explains the composer. "The polyrhythmic heritage opens up very rich territory which is rarely visited."
On her arrival in Paris, Denmark's Kruse was quickly welcomed into the community of South American musicians and her name is now synonymous with these artists. Playing 300 concerts as a member of the Gotan Project gave her the opportunity to go back to the roots of the milonga and chacarera which she puts to good use in Tango La Jalouse, which pays hommage to fellow countryman Jakob Grade and the maestro himself Pugliese. The new album brings in major players from the music scene including the charismatic Argentinian percussionist, Minino Garay and Cuban drummer Lukmil Perez.
Kruse has created a project which will be further developed on stage by varying different musical configurations from the quartet to the big band - the perfect way to showcase her fantasy-filled compositions. "In fact, I think I have always written for an orchestra even when I was composing for smaller groups. I like a form of writing which is always changing."
An exceptional cast of musicians is complemented by guest performers either as soloists or ensemble players crossing the generational divide and mixing nationalities: Trumpeters Gerard Presencer, Steen Nikolaj Hansen, Pierre Bertrand and guitarists Louis Winsberg and Hervé Samb.
Powerful rhythms and a lyrical simplicity are the basis of this varied form of music which is both intimate and extrovert. The Apollonian ideal and Dionysian joy are at last reconciled, sharing in common the clear and certain lines of Line Kruse's violin.