Jazzanova - And All That Jazzï¿½
Sunday, 15 June 2008
3D’s Cyclone shares the company of Berlin collective Jazzanova, who are set to dispel a few preconceptions of their motherland’s music by bringing the funky vibe to Sydney.
If contemporary German music has often been stereotyped as wintry, austere and machine-like, following Kraftwerk's paradigm, then Jazzanova are challenging that. The Berlin collective - comprising three DJs and three producers - made their mark after the UK's acid jazz movement lost momentum. 'J-Nova' ushered deep jazzy grooves back into fashion with their urbane 'nu jazz', absorbing dub, hip hop, funk, RNB, soul and house.
In contrast to the flamboyant acid jazz posse, Jazzanova favoured anonymity.
They established themselves with credible remixes as well as quality compilations (most famously, their best-selling The Remixes 1997 - 2000), rather than studio albums or 'tunes'.
Being in a crew of six might be chaotic and sometimes untenable, but, says Jurgen von Knoblauch, each member has his niche - and responsibilities. Jazzanova work individually. “We meet when there is something to discuss, but it's not like a conventional band where members meet in their rehearsal room and play together,” he reveals. “Everyone has their own little universe, everyone has his part, and, as a whole, we work as a collective.”
Jazzanova preside over an influential stable in Sonar Kollektiv, which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. They've fostered acts like New Zealand superstars Fat Freddys Drop. Jazzanova, too, are ever evolving. In 2002 the clique finally unveiled an 'artist' album, In Between. Early last year Jazzanova's Alexander Barck, then touring Australia, indicated that a sequel wasn't far off. It's yet to appear. (Jazzanova did present the low-key Belle Et Fou, the soundtrack to a modern dance production). Jurgen is confident that fans shouldn't wait much longer; the LP is slated for October.
Jazzanova have recorded with Marvin Gaye's legendary collaborator Leon Ware, Detroit neo-soulster Dwele, and Little Brother's Phonte, among others.
J-Nova even plan to develop a live show. Jazzanova are still releasing compilations. They recently completed Southport Weekender Vol 7 with Mr Scruff.
So why have they traditionally privileged compilations over albums- “Actually, this is also a sign that we are six people,” Jurgen laughs. “It takes a long time for our studio works to get finished so, in the 11 years we’ve been around we’ve just done one album. "We are quite perfectionist in our way of production. When it comes to our own compositions, it's not a thing we can finish in a week or so. We always need time to finish things. Therefore the DJ side [of Jazzanova] is putting together compilations.”
Those comps have their value. The iconic Blue Note Records commissioned Jazzanova to curate two volumes from its back catalogue. Jurgen sees such endeavours as a chance for Jazzanova to demonstrate - and promote - their wide-ranging musical tastes.
This month von Knoblauch is returning to Australia to represent Jazzanova at The Berlin Sessions. The parties, staged by Beck's Fusions, will showcase the city's expansive counterculture. While the J-Nova DJs embrace their role as tastemakers, they're anything but didactic - or dictatorial; alex reported to Jurgen that Australian crowds are currently into tougher music - and he'll keep that in mind.
And he's happy to have any opportunity to fly the Berlin flag, the city a hub for many an ex-pat muso. Above all, Jurgen appreciates Berlin's sense of freedom. “There is some independent feeling. It's not commercialised and franchised - it's too big to be that commercial.”
WHAT: Beck’s Fusions ‘The Berlin Sessions’ at The Civic Hotel
WHEN: Saturday 21 June