‘Joyful, melodic, swinging’ | Interview with Jacob Roved

The collaboration behind this jazz organ trio involves Jacob Roved, a drummer from Denmark, Sami Linna, a guitarist from Finland, and George Kontrafouris, a Hammond organist from Greece. This I Dig of You boasts sophisticated organ solos, graceful guitar lines, and a precise drum section. Read our discussion with Jacob Roved below!

Describe your sound in 3 words

Joyful, melodic, swinging

How did the three of you first come together to form this jazz organ trio?

We met when we all studied at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in Finland. This was a very inspiring and stimulating environment with few, but very dedicated students, everyone playing jazz.

What initially drew you to the classic American organ jazz sound of the 1960s?

The drive and the groovy swing that Hammond organ players get out of their instrument. For me personally, my father was a church organist, playing the classical pipe organ, so I grew up with the sound. I was later fascinated by the use of the Hammond organ in jazz when I listened to the music of John Scofield and to the drummer Bill Stewart’s collaborations with Larry Goldings and Peter Bernstein. That let me to explore more of the Hammond organ tradition in jazz, the old players like Larry Young and Don Patterson. I’m also a big fan of Dr. Lonnie Smith.

How do you balance staying true to the classic sound while also adding your own unique twist?

Actually, we don’t really give that much thought. We don’t try to recreate the old sound, except by playing tunes that are in that style. There’s a certain bluesy character to much of this music. We have listened to the classic recordings so much that they are in our blood, our musical DNA. When we improvise, it is a natural part of our musical language.

Jazz music as a genre has been accused as music for snobs. Is jazz music elitist?

I think jazz appears elitist for people who don’t normally listen to it, and I think it is elitist to some extent, both for social and historical reasons. Jazz draws on influences from several genres, like blues, gospel, latin, and classical music, but its unique property is the extended improvisations. Improvising is exciting, because it’s like composing in real-time. You are telling a story or painting a picture, and you are making it all up on the spot. The tunes that you improvise on give you a framework, a canvas to paint on, if you like, but you have freedom to say almost anything that comes to mind within that framework. This is the true art of jazz, to say something inspiring and meaningful with your improvisations. So, in essence, jazz musicians are story tellers, which in itself is excentric because it requires a huge creativity. I think another reason that jazz is considered elitist is that it has a narrow appeal, but it was not always so. In he 1930s and 1940s swing music was extremely popular, and people would go out to dance halls and dance to live jazz bands. But when Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Dizzie Gillespie and the other bebop cats hit NYC just after world war II, something happened. They took improvisation to another level of complexity, and the grooves and tempos of that music changed to something less danceable. Shortly after, rock music became main stream. Jazz was then marginalized and became more of an intellectual art form, which I think led to its being considered elitist. Still, some artists have a mainstream appeal – think of Miles Davis or Frank Sinatra – and jazz is still a major inspiration to many artists in mainstream genres.

If the music of your upcoming album Our Groove Your Move was a film, which film would that be?

I wish I could say something here that would cater to people that are really into movies, but the truth is that I don’t actually watch many movies myself, and go to the cinema maybe once or twice per year. I would be very interested to hear how other people would answer this question, and to watch their movies and find out if they also resonate with me. It’s a great art form, and a lot of great music has been composed for movies.

What is the first album you remember hearing as a child?

My first musical memories are of my father’s classical church music, because he had an organ at home that he used for studying. But an album as such..? I think some of the British rock music that my older siblings were into, when I was a child – perhaps Blondie or Fleetwood Mac. A lot of that music was very melodic and inspiring. Jazz music came into my life when I was a teenager.

If you were arrested, what would it be for?

Giving the police officer a dirty look.

Thank you!

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