FolkWorld Issue 40 11/2009; Article by Morten Alfred Høirup
Scandinavian Tones Down Under
Færd on Australian Tour
This article is taking shape during a comprehensive mail correspondence with the Danish soprano saxophonist, Eskil Romme. He is on tour in Australia and New Zealand with the violinist Peter Uhrbrand from Fanø and bouzouki-player Jens Ulvsand from Sweden. They are Færd, Denmark’s most widely travelled trio, a folk band with concerts in every imaginable venue, from little village churches, to schools, culture centres and theatres, to huge marquee festivals with audiences of tens of thousands.
To call Eskil Romme, from Himmerland in northern mainland Denmark, an activist is like calling Bob Dylan a guitarist. Eskil burns a lot of midnight oil on his farm in the north mailing with music enthusiasts and festival organisers on the other side of the planet, fixing the details of yet another tour for the Danish-Swedish trio.
Færd (the name means Journey) began in 2001, when Eskil Romme and Peter Uhrbrand had visited the northern archipelago, the Faro Islands, in the North Atlantic between Scotland, Iceland and Norway.
/ @ www.faerd.com
The Færd line-up has seen numerous changes before settling in 2005 into its present trio format. The repertoire is traditional and newly-composed music from Scandinavia, and Færd has toured in Denmark, Italy, Holland, Germany, Faroes, Spain and in Australia and New Zealand. When I contacted Eskil Romme to hear why Færd have played so often in the Antipodes, the trio are preparing to go on stage at the Auckland Scandinavian Gathering. There is time for a quick comment:
”We had to travel outside Denmark to get the exposure we needed. The choice fell on the Australia and New Zealand because people here have widely varied cultural and musical roots. There was a good deal of interest in Scandinavian music too, since it was an undiscovered source for them, and they are used to a mix of traditions, being themselves immigrants from all corners of the earth. They are open and curious, and there are many of both Scandinavian and Celtic origins – and many folk music enthusiasts - who have given us a warm welcome. I’ve been noticing that people like the fact that we come over and play without all the fuss. Many places they don’t have much to offer but a job ‘on the door’, a meal and a bed, but it is often where the facilities are spartan that we have our most intense concerts!”
FÆRD WORKING WITH DANISH JAZZ AND WORLD MUSICIANS
Færd – or ”The Scandi Boys” as they are often called down under – have always sought out new roads, and have thus ensured that the trio keeps developing. In 2004 Eskil Romme met the two Danish jazz/world musicians, guitarist Pierre Dørge and keyboard player Irene Becker, at a jazz festival in Thorshavn on the Faro Islands. After a bottle of whisky and a night’s talk, it was decided to create a new musical concept built on old Nordic material, and on the musicians’ own compositions. In 2007 Færd tours Denmark with Pierre Dørge, Irene Becker and the young Danish-Norwegian singer, Jullie Hjetland, with this new musical concept. Another result is the album Kryss, which presents a beautiful, provocative Nordic tonal universe, and wins Hjetland a Danish Music Award as ” Danish Vocalist of the Year”, in March 2009. Eskil Romme:
”I am deeply fascinated by jazz, but have never found ”hardcore” jazz especially interesting – it seems to me to be fixated on technique and too introverted. When I met Pierre and Irene and learned about their approach to jazz, I found their way of tackling music suited me perfectly, and they wanted to try Scandinavian folk music, after working with African and Indonesian folk music. Peter and Jens were up for it too, they have both played jazz and rock earlier, and Jullie was on the Logbok cd, so she was a natural choice. Everybody was nervous, but we quite simply played our way towards each other and an understanding, then we toured the music before recording – that was Pierre’s suggestion – which meant that the music was good and tight. It followed naturally that we should keep playing after the cd had been made. When Jullie won the Danish Music Award for her fine work on Kryss, was well deserved and also wonderful for the whole band.”
The three musicians at the heart of Færd are each important players on the Danish and Swedish folk scenes. Peter Uhrbrand is one of Denmark’s leading exponents of the traditional music from the little Danish island of Fanø, where he lives. Jens Ulvsand plays in a number of bands in Denmark and in Sweden, and is also known as a talented composer and teacher. Eskil Romme composed and released his first solo album in the spring of 2009: Himmerlandsmelodier. Eskil is also musical director for the famous venue Halkær Kro, as well as Halkær Festival in north-western Jutland.
Morten Alfred Høirup (*1961) is a Danish musician, composer and music journalist. He has been playing the guitar and singing in the Danish duo Haugaard & Høirup, and is currently working freelance for Danish Roots.
(1)-(2) Færd (from website);
(3) Morten Alfred Høirup (by The Mollis).
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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 11/2009
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