Tenor saxophonist Lars Møller (b.1966) is one of Denmark’s most important and versatile saxophonists. Not only is he an instrumentalist of international class, well known for his rich and large tone and highly developed technique and imagination. He has also successfully cultivated his talent as a composer via Lars Møller Group and various big bands such as the experi- mental The Orchestra, and in crossover projects such as Den 3. Vej (The 3. Direction) writing for symphonic orchestras. He has also been an outstanding musician in influential Danish jazz bands: The Danish Radio Big Band, Klüver’s Big Band, The Sound of Choice Ensemble and Kasper Villaume Quartet. And now with his new Danish/German quartet and their debut relea- se PHOBIA.
Yet a great step forward for Lars Møller, PHOBIA is an exiting update on his powerful and original jazz sound. It is his first release featuring a small group since CENTRIFUGAL from 2001, which at the time marked the end of an epoch (1994- 2001), and was the last of a long line of outstanding and interna- tionally acclaimed albums by Lars Møller Group.
The fused and intimate interplay on PHOBIA, in which the lea- der is on equal footing with the rest of the group, is proof of the high artistic level of this powerfully interactive unit with space for individual creativity. The quartet’s expressive and tight band sound stems in part from an innovative quartertone language developed by Lars Møller in recent years. The music is extremely varied, ranging from moody, intimate ballad playing to bluesy second-line and collective, energetic modal improvisations.
Lars Møller says of PHOBIA, that it sums up his work during a three-year grant period from the Danish Art Council, and that he hasn’t “practiced as much since I was in my twenties, as I did with the quartertone material. However, this basic idea of course never overshadows the main features of the band: groove, energy and spontaneous improvisation and communication in the now.”
The rest of the group are: The great young rhythm tandem, bas- sist Robert Landferman and drummer Jonas Burgwinkel, and the Danish guitarist Thor Madsen, with whom Lars Møller has collaborated in various groups since the mid-90’s.
Lars Møller met Jonas Burgwinkel while directing the EBU big band in 2007. “He is an extraordinary drum talent. His uniquely expressive and dynamic drumming never falls back on previous- ly resolved musical formulas”, says an enthusiastic Lars Møller. Jonas Burgwinkel (b.1981 in Aachen, Germany) has performed and recorded with Mark Murphy, Lee Konitz, Antonio Farao, John Taylor, Nils Wogram, Gerd Dudek, Phil Harper and Jasper Blom.
Robert Landfermann (b. 1982 in Oberwinter near Bonn, Germany) has performed with Charlie Mariano, Markus Stockhausen, Joachim Kühn, Simon Nabatov, Rudi Mahal, John Taylor, Claudio Puntin, Axel Dörner, Jiggs Wigham, John Schröder, Rhani Krija and Paul Heller. He can be heard on numerous recordings on the ACT, Enja, DoubleMoon, Frantic Loops Records, CMO and Blue Concept labels.
Lars Møller need not supply very much harmonic material, becau- se Thor Madsen is right behind him with whatever the situation requires. Thor Madsen (b. 1970 in Chicago, USA) is a progressive guitarist with a career in Denmark, Europe and the US. He has played with his own bands – among them Vazabi – and perfor- med and recorded internationally with Nublu Orchestra under the direction of Butch Morris, and with Graham Haynes, Kenny Wollesen, Jesse Murphy, Avi Bortnick, New York-based bands Lemon and Wax Poetic, Sarah Grabow, Fredrik Lundin and Trine- Lise Væring. He has produced for Norah Jones and Erik Truffaz.
Lars Møller (b. 1966) debuted in 1989 on Stunt Records with COPENHAGEN GROOVE. The album featured a classic quar- tet line-up with drum legend Jimmy Cobb. On the follow-up, PYRAMID (1989), the drummer was Billy Hart. After that, Møller consolidated his great talent, recording a string of fan- tastic albums with his regular group through almost ten years. To mention but a couple: CROSS CURRENT from 1995 and the Danish Grammy Award-winner from 1998 KALEIDOSCOPE, which merged inspiration from American jazz and Indian and Scandinavian music into a beautiful original expression. He was chosen as the Danish participant for the prestigious JAZZPAR concerts in 2003 where he performed with a group of the musi- cians of his dreams: pianist Gerri Allen, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart.
As a soloist Møller has performed with many international musicians including Hermeto Pascoal, Niels Henning Ørsted- Pedersen, Jon Balke, Bobo Stensson and Anders Jormin. He has toured Europe, USA, Brazil and Asia, and composed for, directed and recorded with numerous European big bands and his own The Orchestra. His awards include a Danish Grammy (2000), the composer’s association DJBFA’s Honorary Award (1998), the JASA Prize (2000), The Danish Art Council’s 3-year Grant (2006-09) and first prize at the International Jazz Composer’s Symposium, USA (2008).
Lars Möller hat drei besondere regionale Bezugspunkte: New York, wo er auch lebte und Jazz studierte, Delhi, wo er immer wieder viel Zeit verbrachte, um die traditionelle Musik zu studieren - und Köln, wo er u.a. mit der 'Cologne Contemporary Big Band' arbeitete. In Köln traf er auch auf Deutschlands bestens eingespielte 'Backline': Landfermann und Burgwinkel, und gründete mit ihnen ein Quartet. Neue Kompositionen, basierend auf einer von Möller entwickelten 'Viertelton-Technik', mit dem amerikanischen Jazz im Rücken und freien Improvisationen im Blickfeld.