I swear, sometimes I wished I lived in the UK. Or anywhere in Europe for that matter, because it seems that best music (at least in my opinion, so as to avoid stepping on people’s shoes anywhere) is coming out of that continent. Don’t get me wrong, Canada and the US certainly CAN produce good artists from time to time, but that music seems to be consistently coming out from across the pond.

Take Jaga Jazzist for instance, a ten piece experimental jazz group coming out of Norway. But they aren’t just your run-of-the-mill big band group, no; instead they take a rather different approach to jazz, and, I’m just going to come out and say it, music in general. The cake is the musical talent in instruments (trumpets, trombone, electric guitar, bass, tuba, bass clarinets, Fender Rhodes [!!!], vibraphones, and a whole rack of electronics) and song writing (kick ass melodies and rhythms…!!!). The icing is that uber distinguishing sound. And how.

What makes them most unique in my mind is the fact that they’re instrumental. I’m not sure what the deal is, but instrumental groups outside of traditional jazz and electronic music (read: club music?) are hard to come by in the grand scheme of things. My guess would be that when people listen to something, they want to be able to sing along to it? I mean, think about it, when was the last time you heard an instrumental track on the radio? If you listen to the radio anymore that is. Nevertheless, the answer is, “I sure the fuck can’t remember.” You’d think that maybe there could be some representation out there, but no. Russian Circles, Holy Fuck, among other bands…will they ever have their day in the spotlight? Not sure. Good to know that at least Jaga Jazzist is getting recognition over in Europe. Good show.

Citing the influences of Coltrane, Aphex Twin, and Squarepusher, to name a few, they have 5 LP’s to their name (with the same number of EP’s), with their first being released in 1996, Jaevla Jazzist Grete Stitz. Cue a 5 year break, and they followed up with A Livingroom Hush in 2001. In 2002, the BBC proclaimed the album to be “the best jazz album of 2002,” a claim which would give way to their rise to fame. 2003 results in The Stix, which is also the first album I had listened to by them. Now, up until this point, Jaga had been producing music with a bit of a drum and base / electronic feel to it (think Squarepusher). This would prove to be no more with their 2005 release of What We Must, which was a noted change in direction for the band. They dropped the electronic influence and went with more of a post rock/nu-jazz sound, although the lack of electronics certainly made them sound more traditional in nature. This would be their last album for 5 years, as part of the group took on a side project (well, for part of that time presumable, comparing release dates and whatnot. Obviously they took breaks, holidays, etc. as well), working with others bands and singer-songwriter Thomas Dybdahl, to release an album under the name of The National Bank. I checked out some of their stuff on Youtube, it’s like…Jaga Jazzist with lyrics. Pretty cool if you ask me. Anyways, cue another 5 year break from the band producing music under the Jaga name, and you’re in 2010, with their latest release, One-Armed Bandit. This album took yet another different direction, but I guess that’s what happens when you take a break for 5 years, going with more of a progressive rock influence.

Anyways, it’s all good stuff to check out. I’m hoping that I get to see them do a live set sometime, because how can seeing a ten piece band doing a gig NOT be epic in nature. Epic songs below.

Random aside: I recently learned that The Mars Volta cites Jaga Jazzist as one of their favourite bands. No surprise there if you’ve listened to some of the stuff they’ve put together. Considering my love for The Mars Volta, I cannot say that I’m surprised that I love Jaga as much as I do.

Animal Chin – A Livingroom Hush.

I mentioned their Squarepusher or, in general, their DnB influence. A great example of said influence. I’m also hella confused by the music video, but in a good way.

Day & Another Day (Live) – Originally from The Stix

Holy crap do I want to see them play live. Maybe you will too once you watch/listen to this. Also that tuba player is a beast.

Oslo Skyline (Live) – Originally from What We Must

Another live performance, pretty sure from the same gig as the previous one. And that tuba player is still a beast.

A Touch of Evil – One-Armed Bandit

Wasn’t really sure how to end the stream of vids, so here’s my favourite song off of their latest album. Enjoy.